Media reports abound about the efforts of Dr. David Gerbi to restore the dilapidated Dar Bishi Synagogue, a former fixture of Tripoli’s Hara Kebira (old Jewish Quarter). Gerbi, a Libyan Jew who has lived in exile since 1967, returned to his ancestral home this past spring as a volunteer in support of the anti-Gaddafi regime revolutionaries. Remaining after the fall of Col. Muammar Gaddafi, Gerbi single-handedly re-opened Dar Bishi for prayer – his own, as the last member of the disbanded indigenous Jewish community died in 2003 – and began restoring the synagogue by clearing decades of accumulated debris.
The work was abruptly put on indefinite hold on October 8th, Yom Kippur (the Jewish holiday of atonement), when hundreds of protesters gathered in Tripoli and Bengazi to assert "There is no place for the Jews in Libya." Gerbi was prevailed upon to leave the country after protesters attempted to storm his hotel and disagreements arose with the provisional government about whether he had received the proper authorizations.