November 30, 1947
Following the United Nations vote for the Partition of Palestine on the previous day, violence ensues between Jews and Arabs in the British Mandate of Palestine. The first phase of Israel’s War of Independence had begun.
In addition to Arab attacks on Jewish property and fighting in Palestine, riots broke out against Jewish communities in Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Beirut, and Aden. A Holy War against the Zionists was declared by the leaders of Al-Azhar University in Cairo.
On November 30th, in Aleppo, Syria, a mob gathered outside the Great Synagogue, chanting anti‐Jewish slogans. Eventually, they broke into the Synagogue destroying Torah scrolls. An ancient Torah Manuscript, the Aleppo Codex, which was written circa 930 CE, was badly damaged. However, most of the manuscript was saved and hidden. In 1958, the Codex was smuggled out of Syria to Jerusalem. Destruction against Jewish property included 150 Jewish homes, 50 shops, 18 synagogues and 5 schools. One of the synagogues destroyed, the Mustariba Synagogue, had been built in the 5th-6th centuries.
Asher Baghdadi, whose father was the caretaker of the Great Synagogue of Aleppo recalled, “I remember everything. I saw my father weeping like a child … My father sat. And I went through the papers, the piles, to find the pieces of the codex.”
Three days later, on December 2nd, 82 Jews were killed and 76 more were wounded in the British colony of Aden, which in 2013 is part of Yemen. On December 5th in Manama, Bahrain, Jewish homes and shops were looted and the synagogue was destroyed. One Jewish woman was killed. The continuing Arab violence against Jews and their institutions eventually caused hundreds of thousands of them to leave Arab states and immigrate to the new State of Israel.
The photo shows the Great Synagogue of Aleppo in ruins after the November 30th riots. (Source: Ofer, Yosef, “The Shattered Crown: The Aleppo Codex, 60 Years after the Riots,” Biblical Archaeology Review September/October 2008, Vol. 34 Issue 5.)