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Cairo, Egypt - Government to Pay for Restoration of All Synagogues, Jewish Sites

Published on: March 9, 2010 12:20 PM
By: AP
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Chaar-Hachamaim Synagogue, CairoCairo, Egypt - Egypt will shoulder the costs of restoring the country’s Jewish houses of worship said the culture minister Tuesday, two days after a historic synagogue in Cairo’s ancient Jewish quarter was rededicated in a private ceremony.

Farouk Hosny said in a statement that his ministry views Jewish sites as much a part of Egypt’s culture as Muslim mosques or Coptic churches and the restorations would not require any foreign funding.

On Sunday, the Ben Maimon synagogue, named after the 12th century rabbi and intellectual Maimonides, was rededicated in a ceremony including half a dozen Egyptian Jewish families that long ago fled the country, (as was reported here on VIN News).

Hosny committed his ministry to restoring all 11 synagogues across Egypt, three of which have already been renovated. The best-known synagogue that of Ben Ezra, is located in Cairo’s Christian quarter near a number of old churches and was restored years ago.

The ceremony at the Ben Maimon synagogue was closed to media but attendees said it was an emotional event, especially for the Egyptian-Jewish families invited, many of whom now live in Europe.


‘‘There were some lectures on the Jewish sites in Egypt and the temple. It was nice, emotional and nostalgic,’’ said Raymond Stock, an American close to the Jewish community in Cairo who attended the three-day event.

A group of about 11 Hassidic Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis also came to Cairo from the United States and Israel sang at the event.

Egypt’s Jewish community, which dates back millennia and at its peak in the 1940s numbered around 80,000, is down to several dozen, almost all of them elderly. The rest were driven out decades ago by mob violence and persecution tied in large part to the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Egypt and Israel fought a war every decade from the 1940s to the 1970s until the 1979 peace treaty was signed.

Despite that treaty, Egyptian sentiment remains deeply unfriendly to Israel, and anti-Semitic stereotypes still occasionally appear in the Egyptian media.

Last September, Hosny blamed a conspiracy ‘‘cooked up in New York’’ by the world’s Jews when he lost a bid from becoming the next head of the U.N.‘s agency for culture and education.

At the time, Hosny’s candidacy raised an outcry because of a threat he made in the Egyptian parliament in 2008 to personally burn any Israeli book he found in the Alexandria Library.

While he later apologized and Israel said it had withdrawn its opposition to his candidacy, several prominent Jewish activists spoke out against him in the run-up to the vote.

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Read Comments (4)  —  Post Yours »


 Mar 09, 2010 at 02:31 PM Anonymous Says:

It is important to remember that Egypt finances its Government Budget with USA Financial Aid dollars. Isn't it nice that the Egyptians finally have invested in their Jewish Heritage sites with our US tax dollars. At least Israel has been financing all regious heritage sites for fifty years.


 Mar 09, 2010 at 03:35 PM Jewish mother Says:

The US has not provided Egypt with any infrastructure aid in many years.
The US provides 73 million in aid to Egypt for education and 25 million for "family planning" which is disputably "aid" since it encourages the Egyptian population to drop. There is also 48 million for "promoting democracy".

Israel receives 1/3 of all US foreign aid even though Israel has only .001% of the world's population and one of the highest per capita incomes in the world. Israel's GNP is higher than the combined GNP of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank and Gaza. With a per capita income of about $14,000, Israel ranks as the sixteenth wealthiest country in the world; Israelis enjoy a higher per capita income than oil-rich Saudi Arabia and are only slightly less well-off than most Western European countries.

Since 1992, the U.S. has offered Israel an additional $2 billion annually in loan guarantees. Congressional researchers have disclosed that between 1974 and 1989, $16.4 billion in U.S. military loans were converted to grants and that this was the understanding from the beginning. Indeed, all past U.S. loans to Israel have eventually been forgiven by Congress.


 Mar 09, 2010 at 05:08 PM knowitall Says:

Looks like Egypt wants Jewish tourist dollars. Don't fall for it.


 Mar 09, 2010 at 09:27 PM somethingmore Says:

All of a sudden they are spending $$ on Jewish Holy sites? Are they claiming them as their own? Did Israel promise them something? Did America (i.e. Israel) promise Egypt something? I think this is related to Netanyahu's statement that Israel will be renovating Israel's Holy sites (i.e. $$ to Egypt to do the same).


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