|BASSATINE NEWS the ONLY Jewish newsletter reporting directly from Egypt|
|A Community Chronicle put out by the Jewish Community Council (JCC) of Cairo since 1995|
MAGDA HAROUN NEW JCC PRESIDENT
18 APRIL 2013
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FOR THE FIRST TIME HANUKA WILL BE CELEBRATED AT THE HISTORIC BEN EZRA SYNAGOGUE IN OLD CAIRO
As reported in the Progres Egyptien (Nov. 27, 1977 p.2) and the AFP wire service, Mrs. Esther Weinstein, the president of the JCC (Jewish Community Council of Cairo), together with Mr. Nabawi Sirag and Mr. Sasson Somekh representing the Higher Council for Egyptian Antiquities Department and the Israeli Academic Center in Cairo respectively, inaugurated on Tuesday, November 25, 1997, at 11:00 am, a library annex situated inside the compound of Old Cairo's historic and recently restored Ben Ezra Synagogue. The aim of this library, stocked with hundreds of books and periodicals, is to provide the thousands of annual visitors an opportunity to learn about Jewish history in Egypt thus complementing the Library Of The Jewish Heritage In Egypt attached to Chaar Hachamayim - the 97 year old Synagogue on Adly Street - and another library on Jewish history situated in Abbassia.
The new library is equipped with a computer.
The Chaar Hachamayim library, by far the largest Jewish studies library in Cario, was restored and officially inaugurated in 1988 during President Mubarak's administration.
The Ben Ezra Library is situated in a small bungalow in the south western courtyard behind the Ben Ezra Synagogue where the Cairo Geniza was discovered a century ago. It is in very close proximity to the Coptic Museum as well as the Hanging Church and Mar Guirgiss, regarded among the holiest Christian sites in Cairo. The library is also within walking distance from the historic Amr Ibn Al Aas Mosque, Egypt's oldest Islamic place of worship.
Present at the ceremony was Ambassador Nevine Semeika from the office of Mr. Ossama al-Baz, Presidential Advisor on Foreign Affairs; Ambassador Michael Bell of Canada; Bill Caveness, Press and Cutural Counselor at the American Embassy. Also attending were several members of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo including the incumbent Israeli ambassador and Mrs. Zvi Mazel.
Another library is expected to open in Alexandria before the end of next year.
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* Just as reported in Cairo Times (Vol 1. Issue 16; October 2-15, 1997 P.21), the High holidays were celebrated this year in both Cairo and Maadi. Rosh Hashanah celebrations took place at the Synagogue on Adly Street, while Yom Kippur and Sukkot were celebrated in the Enayim Meyr Biton Temple in Maadi. Despite the much reduced tourist arrivals from Israel, when bus loads used to turn up at the gates of Chaar Hachamayim, this year's attendance surpassed previous ones with regard to local residents.
|* JCC is pleased to report that the belated spring cleaning (belated not only because it took place in late September but also because it was a decade overdue) of Maadi's Meyr Biton Temple resulted in several hundred meters of new electric cables being laid out, a complete overhaul cleaning of the temple's neglected basement, as well as the replacement of several wooden doors which had rotted over the years. Broken window panes were also replaced. Meanwhile, the adjacent small Guard House was refurbished to enable members of the community to enjoy the synagogue's garden.
Massive contributions (approx. US$ 20-25,000) are needed if Enayim Meyr Biton is to be restored to its original condition.
Haret al-Yahud (Cairo's old Jewish Quarter), Rab Moshe or Maimonides Synagogue at No.15 Darb Mahmoud, is in need of restoration. Most of basement is under one meter of water and inaccessible in view of seepage. The Antiquities Department has been notified.
However, the Yeshiva where Moses Maimonides "Rab Moshe" taught his disciples and considered one of the most sacred Jewish sites in Egypt, is under water most of the time. With the use of a small pump, the JCC is doing its best to redress the situation.
The synagogue next to the Yeshiva is in worse shape ever since the roof caved in during Rosh Hashanah in 1973 and also because of the earthquake of October 1992. Contributions for the restoration of this temple will be much appreciated and will surely bring blessings to the donors.
* Thomas Winderl, the young Austrian who was going to give us a technical hand while doing his Gedenkdienst Corps Duty never turned up. In the last BN issue, we had informed you that he was going to spend part of the year in Cairo helping out at JCC. It seems he will be doing his service elsewhere.
* Drawing of detailed plans of the layout of graves at the Bassatine Cemetery outside Cairo has been postponed. Likewise, the planting of about 1,000 trees has been delayed until the extension of a fresh water pipe by the Water Utility Company.
* At the risk of being repetitive, we reiterate that the process of searching for and transcribing old marriage, birth and death certificates from the community's ledgers is time consuming especially if entries are written in classical Hebrew requiring outside expert assistance. Needless to say, inquiries have to be as accurate as possible. Please note that donations in this respect should not be less than US$150 and should be made out to the "Jewish Community Cairo."
|* We ask you to send us old pictures of weddings, engagements, Bar-Mitzvas and school events which took place at any one of the Synagogues or Jewish schools in Egypt. We are currently compiling a photo gallery and we need pictures for an eventual publication.|
* Bassatine News extends its thanks to all those who sent in contributions and donations. Remember, it is your commitment that will help us advance in our programs to restore, preserve and renovate. Without your generous support, a rich and significant page of our community's legacy may disappear.
* As we approach the end of the year, BN takes this opportunity to wish the Jewish community at large a Happy Hannuka. We also extend our Moslem brethren our very best wishes for Ramadan and to our Christian brethren a very Merry Xmas.
According to Andrew Strum in Australia, the brothers Hayim and Baroukh Hanan founded the Etz Hayim synagogue/Kenisset Hanan in Daher. Chalom Levi meanwhile founded the Neveh Chalom synagogue/Kenisset el-kebirah in Abassieh. The Hanan family had a family-plot at Bassatine surrounded by a high iron grill fence.
Rabbi Eliahou Israel (1800-1866) was Cairo's chief rabbi between 1846-1866. He was succeeded by his son Rabbi Yomtob Israel (1820-1891) from 1867 until 1891.
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C O N T A C TJewish Community Council (JCC) of Cairo
# 13 Sabil El Khazindar Street
Midan al-Geish, Abbassia, Cairo
tel: +20 2 2482-4613 - tel/fax +20 2 2736-9639
open daily 10:00 to 15:00
Friday 10:00 to 17:00
Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fostat (Old Cairo)
For visits to other Cairo synagogues or Bassatine Cemetery contact JCC
please note the Jewish Community Council of Alexandria is an independent entity separate from the Jewish Community Council of Cairo