“THE LOST CROWN”— A Detective Documentary About The Crown of Aleppo

The LOST CROWN (“HAKETER HA’AVOUD”)

 

A Detective Documentary About the Crown of Aleppo

Amos Lassen

 

For seven centuries, the ancient Jewish community of Aleppo (Syria) has safeguarded a sacred treasure worth millions: the Aleppo Codex. Then one night, riots set the synagogue on fire, and the Crown began a dangerous journey. In 1957, while secretly on its way from Aleppo to the hands of the president of Israel in Jerusalem, a third of its pages disappeared. This is the story of the attempt to solve the mystery of the lost pages. Were they simply lost in the fire, or is there another explanation that is less pleasant to the Israeli establishment? Avi, son of a Syrian family, follows the mystery and meets the Crown underground, a group comprised of an independent researcher, a devoted journalist, a best-selling author, and an elderly Mossad (Israeli intelligence) agent, all obsessed with the affair. They reveal a secret trial that took place in the 1960’s and uncover lost protocols leading to corrupt officials, dealing with antique merchants and wealthy collectors. Archival documents and rare testimonies show a harsh cultural clash between the ancient and the proud Aleppian Jewish community and the Israeli establishment of the newborn state and brings up serious questions about the involvement of the 2nd president of Israel in the misappropriation of the Crown.

 

 

This is not only a detective documentary film, it is also a virtual reality experience of a great synagogue, now destroyed and an investigative community website about the whereabouts of the Crown of Aleppo. The ‘Lost Crown’ project is the first Israeli documentary transmedia trilogy.

75,000 people have watched the film in Israel. It has premiered in the Miami Jewish Film festival in January and was officially selected to be screened at the NY Sephardic Jewish Film Festival in March.

The film is the product of six years of  extended research and tells the story of an Israeli filmmaker who embarks on a perilous quest to reveal the fate of The Aleppo Codex, A.K.A “The Crown¨, considered to be the most accurate and valuable manuscript of the Hebrew Bible.

After being safeguarded for seven centuries by the Jewish community of Aleppo, over a third of its pages disappeared while being smuggled to Israel in 1957.

As the filmmaker, a great-grandson of the Crown keeper, navigates the dark corridors of hidden history, archival documents and rare testimonies reveal an astonishing tale involving an Israeli president, Mossad agents, passionate researchers,  rabbis and antique dealers.

he Aleppo Codex

 

“The Lost Crown” is directed by Avi Dabach and it documents the story of the Aleppo Codex. Like a good detective story, this is a story of intrigue, murder and even cultural appropriation at the hands of the government of Israel

The Aleppo Codex was written on parchment in the 10th century and is the most ancient manuscript of the Hebrew Bible.  Today it is located in the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum, but about 200 pages of the manuscript are missing.  The manuscript was kept in the Great Synagogue of Aleppo, which was destroyed in a fire caused during the riots of 1947, following the UN vote on partition. Even though the Crown was rescued from the fire, it is still unclear what happened to the missing pages.

 

The filmmaker, the great grandson of the Syrian Jewish man who was the guardian of the Crown, becomes obsessed with the subject and begins to try to solve the mystery of what happened to the missing pages. He interviews Mossad agents, antiquities dealers and historical researchers. He travels to Deal, New Jersey, where he meets members of the tight-knit, vibrant Halabi (Aleppo) Jewish community, who vacation there every summer.  When he returns to Israel, he documents the story of the Aleppo Code.

 

This is both a personal quest for the filmmaker and also an attempt at righting a wrong that was enacted in the name of the State of Israel, a kind of cultural interventionism and paternalistic appropriation on the part of officials of the State.  “TH

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