May 28, 2012
This weekend there was a disruption in the Syrian community. When the protests first began in Syria, there was a demonstration of support for Assad and the Syrian government here in Allentown. Allentown's Syrian community dates back to the 1900 era, when many families migrated from Amar, in the valley of the Christians. The Syrians, Jews and other ethnic groups lived and worked together in the 6th Ward. Second Street was almost exclusively home to the Jews and Syrians. In 1903 practically every house in the 600 block was Jewish, including my grandparents. Although the Jews migrated up town to 6th Street, there still is a Syrian presence in the Ward. Hafez Assad, father of the current president, supposedly had a Christian nanny, and an affinity for the minority. Ties between Second Street and the homeland have existed for many decades, including Syrian Ambassadors speaking at local events. In more recent years, newer immigrants have a more personal experience with the realities of the current regime. Tensions between the two groups, newer immigrants and the community here for a hundred years, erupted at a protest this weekend in center city. I invite my friends of Syrian descent to elaborate on this post.
reprinted from June 6, 2011
UPDATE: The turmoil in Syria has only greatly increased since this post was written last year. Let us hope for a quick resolution to the tragedies occurring there.