Almost 180 Jews of Egyptian origin flew in to celebrate a special Shabbat at a newly-renovated 14th century synagogue in the ancient Egyptian city Alexandria.
The government-funded restoration project, which began in 2017, included structural and architectural reinforcement to the building, plus the “meticulous” restoration of facades and ornate walls as well as wood and copper elements. In addition, the synagogue has had
a new lighting and security system.
To celebrate completion of the work at Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue, Jews of Egyptian heritage from around the world flew in for a weekend organised by the Nebi Daniel Association, a charity working on the preservation of Jewish sites in Egypt.
The synagogue, which traces its construction to 1354, is one of only two to have survived from an era when the city counted more than 40,000 Jews among its population. At its peak, there were 12 synagogues.
Fire caused by Napoleon’s 1798 invasion of Egypt destroyed the building, but it was rebuilt in 1850, and today’s tiny remaining Jewish community this week praised the Egyptian government for its conscious efforts to preserve Jewish history.
“I’m very proud of what my country has done,” said Magda Haroun, head of Cairo’s Jewish community, speaking to Ha’aretz.
“It symbolises living together. Today, there is no difference between Muslims, Christians and Jews in Egypt.”