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Israel announces participation in inauguration of synagogue in Egypt

January 11, 2020 at 10:58 am

Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria [Wikipedia]

On Friday it was revealed that the Israeli Foreign Ministry received an invitation from the Jewish community in Egypt to participate in the inauguration of a synagogue in Alexandria, later this month.

Israel has refrained from protesting to Egypt, after the latter excluded it from attending a Jewish event to be held this Friday in Alexandria.

On Friday, the Egyptian Minister of Antiquities will officially open the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, following its recent restoration.

Egypt has invited 25 foreign ambassadors to the inauguration ceremony, including ambassadors of Arab countries. However, it has not invited representatives of the Israeli embassy, ​​and therefore no representative on behalf of Israel will attend the ceremony. The Egyptian authorities have also invited 25 people from the Jewish community in Alexandria.

One of the reasons prompting Israel to refrain from protesting, is that the Jewish community in Alexandria will hold another inauguration ceremony of the synagogue at a later date, with the participation of Israeli representatives. The Israeli Foreign Ministry responded: “The Israeli embassy in Cairo will attend the opening ceremony that will be held later.”

READ: Over 700,000 Israelis visit Egypt in 2019 

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is located in Nabi Daniel Street in the centre of Alexandria, northern Egypt, and is considered to be one of the oldest and most famous synagogues in Alexandria, built in 1354. The synagogue was bombed during the French campaign against Egypt, under the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte. However, the Jewish community rebuilt the synagogue in 1850, after the family of Muhammad Ali Pasha allowed them to do so.

In 1948, the synagogue was redesigned and rebuilt by Italian architect Leon Brasilon, with a similar appearance to a large European cathedral. However, that year, a large number of Egyptian Jews left the country for Israel, after its establishment in the same year. Following this, the building began to be poorly maintained, due to the impact of time and the infiltration of water from its roof.

Three years ago, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities supervised the restoration of the synagogue, at the expense of the Egyptian government, allocating a $4 million budget for its restoration.

The synagogue can accommodate 700 people, and contains a central library, which comprises around 50 ancient copies of the Torah and a collection of other books, some dating back to the fifteenth century.