While it is sometimes forgotten in today's tense political climate, many Middle Eastern countries were once home to large and flourishing Jewish populations. These communities have dwindled since the creation of Israel and the 1967 Six-Day War, leaving the diaspora -- the few remaining Jews of the Arab World -- as living reminders of a period in the region's history that was more diverse and less fractured by religious loyalties. However, these communities are increasingly seeing the time as ripe for a return, as the political and cultural upheaval of the Arab Spring provides new opportunities to reintegrate into society.
Above, David Gerbi, an exiled Libyan Jew, prays inside Dar Bishi synagogue in Tripoli on Oct. 1, 2011. Gerbi and his family fled Tripoli in 1967 when an Arab-Israeli war stoked anger against the Jewish state and led to attacks on Jews in his neighborhood. Gaddafi expelled the rest of Libya's 38,000 Jews two years later and confiscated their assets. Most Tripoli synagogues have since been destroyed or converted to mosques. "My family built a new life in Rome, but I never forgot where I came from nor abandoned my dream to return," Gerbi says.