Syrian Jews are Jews who migrated from Syria. Syrian Jews have had a very long and difficult history.
Some would say that there have been Jews in Syria since the time of King David and that the first synagogue was even built by King David. Presently very few Syrian Jews remain in Syria due mostly to the Syrian Civil War.
The largest concentration of Syrian Jews in the world is New York, and more specifically Brooklyn. Within the New York metro area, they also reside in the Ocean Parkway area between Ave O and Ave X in Gravesend/Flatbush, Brooklyn; Deal, NJ and surrounding areas in Monmouth County.
Click here to view Syrian owned businesses in New York.
They have the desire to be completely American but also completely Syrian. In 1935 an “Edict” was put into place by the rabbis in an effort to seclude the community and keep their Syrian roots. If any individual went outside this edict they were essentially excommunicated.
First coming to America in the early 20th century, Syrian Jews have prospered
economically and assimilated into American life while somehow managing to retain their
distinct identity, culture, and religious practices. The majority are generally very wealthy living in homes that are worth millions of dollars. They are very loyal to their people and committed to keeping their culture alive within the United States.
The Syrian Jewish communities in Brooklyn and Deal are known for their ability to flourish financially in the secular world, particularly in the garment and electronics industries, while retaining centuries-old religious customs and traditions.
"It's a community that is committed to its rabbis and their rule," said Jonathan Sarna, an American Jewish history professor at Brandeis University.
They are all Orthodox Jew, of the Sephardic tradition. Sephardic Judaism is found among Jews from Asia and Africa, and differs from the Ashkenazi traditions and prayer rituals of those Jews from Eastern Europe. Ashkenazi and Sephardic identity is definitely different, and Syrians Jews are proud of their heritage and traditions. Synagogue attendance is very high at the many Syrian synagogues in Brooklyn and New Jersey.
Due to their insular community, it is difficult for Christians to have access to the Syrian Jews. Pray that somehow this access would come forth. Business is probably the most obvious access point, as more than a few Syrian Jews run and employ people in large corporations.
Two major barriers hinder Syrian Jews from becoming followers of Christ: Judaism and materialism. Pray that these barriers would be overcome.
Pray that Syrian Jews who go to college or venture out from the Syrian Jewish community will cross paths with evangelical Christians that will lovingly share the Gospel with them.
Pray for evangelical Christians and churches to naturally become friends with Syrian Jews with the intent of beginning churches among them.
"After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb." (Revelation 7:9, NIV)