We are preparing to unveil a large database of photographs and videos related to Jewish heritage sites across the Middle East. Until then, browse the following sample of materials (via Picasa and YouTube embeds):

  • Photos of the “new” Jewish cemetery in Aden, Yemen

With no new burials in over four decades, the Ma’alla Street cemetery is a silent testament to a once-vibrant Jewish community at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula.

  • Video tour of the Mellah of Ourzazate, Morocco

Rapheal Elmaleh, Morocco’s only Jewish tour guide and a research advisor to Diarna, leads viewers through the Mellah (old Jewish quarter) of Ourzazate, a city in southern Morocco known as the “gateway to the Sahara” desert. He recounts how, on his first trip to the city, he discovered the Mellah’s last Jew. Raphy also explains the Quarter’s architecture and reveals what has become of its synagogue.

  • Photos of the Magen Avraham Synagogue in Beirut, Lebanon

Its stucco roof is shattered, the Ten Commandment tablets at the building’s peak have crumbled, and graffiti has been spray-painted in the sanctuary. Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham Synagogue still stands – having survived more than a decade of civil war street battles and the near-complete disappearance of Lebanon’s Jewish community.

    To see Diarna’s efforts to digitally reconstruct the Magen Avraham click here.

  • Photos and video of the Jewish cemetery in Khartoum, Sudan

Along a busy thoroughfare in downtown Khartoum sits a seemingly vacant plot, notorious for the drug gang that used to operate there. Underneath the accumulated sand, dirt, refuse, and shell casings, however, are the remaining graves of the city’s Jewish cemetery – and with them, the forgotten story of Sudan’s Jewish community.

  • Photos and video of the ancient synagogue in Oufrane, Morocco
  • According to legend, a band of Jews fleeing the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem headed West, eventually arriving at this oasis at the foot of a sloping mountain along the edge of the Sahara desert. Here, in the town of Oufrane (“Caves” in the local Berber dialect), they supposedly created an independent Jewish realm and built a mini-temple of their own. That legendary building remains intact, a testament to the 2,000 year-old Berber Jewish culture that somehow flourished amidst the raw power of the desert.