My Lazy Sunday’s Curious Stroll: Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue

It’s Sunday again.
I found myself up and hyped up at 6 a.m with absolutely nothing to do. And just like last Sunday, I decided to take a stroll in the beautiful and sunny city of Beirut.
This time those 2 good pair of legs took me in the opposite direction of Hamra. I walked all the way to Downtown. As expected, very few cars on the streets and a lot less people on the sidewalks. A striking contrast to the very busy and jammed weekdays.
On my way back I remembered one of the city’s best kept secrets. And as I walked past Audi Bank’s headquarters I decided to take the small turn leading to a tiny road parallel to the main street. I walked past scattered security guards and foreign construction workers in that narrow stretch of paved road for a few minutes. I was now in Wadi Bu Jamil, my favorite part of Beirut so far.

A Planning for Wadi Bu Jamil - Maghen Abraham last building to the right!

When I reached my destination I got all excited by myself, like a kid in a candy store! There it was, the Maghen Abraham Synagogue!
I don’t know why this place, the fact that it still exists and that it’s being renovated mean so much to me. I think because, in my mind, it completes the complicated chain that is the Lebanese society. Finally a place out in public where the Jews of Lebanon can practice their faith and not be ashamed of it.

For many people it may not really be that big a deal! But bare with me. I tend to over react and get excited over really small things (even if this is not really a small thing)! Re-building the Maghen Abraham in Wadi Bu Jamil, the historic heart of Jewish Beirut, is a milestone for this country and a major step taken in the long journey of forgiveness and getting over war.

Happy as can be, I grab my phone and snap a photo to share with everyone.  I tried to zoom in to the detail of the Hebrew engravings above the door when I hear a man SCREAMING at me: “MATRA7AAAAAK” (In Your Place!).
Needless to say I stood in my place without him saying another word.
He was one of the security guards in the area and as he came over it was clear he was a bit too furious: “CHOU 3AM BETSAWWER!!!! MESH 3AREF ENNO MAMNOU3 EL TESWIR?” (What are you taking photos of? Don’t you know it’s forbidden to do so?)
I tried to keep my composure and stay calm and responded politely saying no and that it’s a harmless photo of a building being renovated… What’s the big deal?
That’s when he really got mad and asked me to delete the photo. When I refused he asked me to come with him. We walked to his officer a couple hundred meters down the road. There I got a bit more insults and I finally deleted the photo.

What they don’t know is that, on my way to that officer thing, I e-mailed the photo to myself.
Never under-estimate a young man with a smart phone and a not-so-bad connection!
It may be a mediocre photograph but After what happened, it means a lot to me and I just LOVE it:

Maghen Abraham Beirut - Under Renovation Unfortunately I e-mailed it in a low quality so that it gets sent quickly!
But it still does the trick!

I will not repeat what I said in a previous post of mine, but seriously, policemen in this country need a good lesson in how to speak and deal with humans. Anyway, I don’t think the rest of this Sunday will get more eventful to me!

What did YOU do this Sunday?!

Follow me on twitter @fadyroumieh

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4 Responses to My Lazy Sunday’s Curious Stroll: Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue

  1. Why don’t you call me to go on these adventures with you Fady! Would have loved to take this stroll with you, and get in trouble with you as well..can’t believe these idiots. Do they have signs throughout the city saying that taking pictures are prohibited? What idiots!! I was around there a few months ago, and I took a picture of some buildings, and was harassed by a police officer as well. I whipped out my American accent and he just said nicely “Please no photos!.” He didn’t as me to erase it,,thank goodness.. If he did, I wouldn’t have been able to capture this shot: http://thisisbeirut.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/contrast/

    Next Sunday, WE go walking. Kapeesh? 😀

  2. Jad Raad says:

    Good Work! Not Bad!
    But i dont think forgiveness and getting over the war is possible since till now, we are still living in war, even if it is kinda dormant, but still…we have a lot 2 recover from…and the recovery process needs 2 begin after this crap we’re living ends…

  3. Pingback: Beirut’s Maghen Abraham Synagogue: Monument or Promise? | beirut public space

  4. BeirutBoy says:

    Dude, that’s gr8! It’s always been in the back of my mind to take pics of this renovated synagogue, and I’ve heard about those idiot guards not allowing to take pics so I was gonna sneak my way in =P

    But hey, the pic’s good! Glad u didn’t panic.

    gr8 job! 😉

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