Rabbi Hamra (left) in one of the covert meetings at the JDC office with JDC CEO Michael Schneider, and Rabbi Moses Rosen, Chief Rabbi of Romania. Both Rabbis lead their communities under oppressive dictatorships. (photo: Amir Shaviv, JDC)

New York, NY – We at JDC mourn the passing of Rabbi Avraham Hamra, the last Chief Rabbi of the Jews of Syria, a courageous leader of his community at times of danger and of redemption. He died last Friday in Israel.

During the years that JDC took part in unpublished rescue and relief operations for the Jews in Syria, Rabbi Hamra partnered with us in this endeavor, at great risk to his personal safety, serving as a beacon of light and hope to his distressed community living under oppression.

When the exodus of Jews from Syria was finally completed in 1994, the Rabbi’s heroic role came to the light of day. Rabbi Hamra continued to lead his community in Israel and in America as a teacher and spiritual guide, retaining the rich cultural heritage of the Jews of Syria.

The Jews of Syria who emerged from captivity to freedom, and Jewish and Israeli organizations working with them to make this possible, are in debt to Rabbi Hamra.

He was a scholar and a kind person, a gifted teacher, a trustworthy advisor, a solid rock in the face of storm and life-threatening events.

May his memory be for a blessing.