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Last Eritrean Jews guard heritage
Last remnants of Jewish community guard heritage in beleaguered Eritrea

The synagogue on Haile Mariam Mammo Street, with its tall white plaster walls and blue iron gate featuring a large Magen David, has welcomed few Jews or tourists since Eritrea's bloody war of liberation from Ethiopia began more than 25 years ago. Once a thriving center of local Jewish activity, the synagogue now sits deserted, its gates locked, only one block from Asmara's central mosque and three blocks from its enormous Orthodox Christian cathedral.

Women in colorfully embroidered linen shawls and lounging shoeshine boys rarely take note of the old building, which has been there longer than any of their elders can remember.

Its upkeep falls essentially to one man, Samuel Cohen, who at 53 is the youngest member of Eritrea's last Jewish family.

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