Bibles rescued from Syria in James Bond-style operation

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Nearly a dozen ancient holy books have finally made their way to Israel from Syria, following a multi-continent, James

An Israeli librarian inspects a rare holy book before it goes on exhibit at the National Library in Jerusalem (photo: AP)

Bond-style operation. They traveled from Damascus to New York and finally to Jerusalem, where they are being kept at the National Library, according to www.standforisrael.org.

The 11 holy books, some dating back 1,000 years, were written by copyist of the Scriptures around the world and arrived in the Syrian capital in different periods. The Jewish community took pride in them and guarded them meticulously, helping them survive the political upheavals that took place in the city over the years.

The Damascus books are considered the world’s most ancient Bibles after the Aleppo Codex, which compared to them is torn and shabby.

The Rabin government made the initial decision to bring the books to Israel in 1995. The defense establishment, governmental organizations and immigrants from Syria took part in the secret operation.

It was one of the most important operations we participated in,” says Eliyahu Hasson, chairman of the community of Damascus Jews in Israel, who served as director-general of the Transportation Ministry at the time.

Judy Feld Carr, a Canadian pensioner who turned helping Syria’s Jewry into her life’s work, lauds the operation as well. “Out of all the things I have done in my life, this operation was the most brilliant,” she declares.

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