After a vibrant Jewish community in Egypt for thousands of years, there are only a few hundred Jews left in modern day Egypt. The last members of this community are mostly elderly.
Since Egypt and many of its sites have significant meaning to the three major religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, it was understandable that we wanted to visit a Jewish temple, as well as a mosque and a church while in Egypt.
Unfortunately we were told that the only functioning Synagogue in Cairo was closed due to security and not open for visits. Luckily, in the Coptic Christian area of Cairo, Egypt’s oldest synagogue, Ben Ezra, was open for visitors though.
It is said, that it was this area, where the prophet Jeremiah gathered the Hebrews after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. The adjacent spring was supposed to be where Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in a basket and where Mary drew water to wash Jesus.
We did not hear this from our guide, but learned of these tidbits from our guidebook. Of course, these are only speculations regarding the exact area.
We were not allowed to take photographs or video inside the synagogue, in order to preserve the art work and colors. It was remarkable to observe all three religions represented in one form or another inside the temple.
We found out that the building was originally a Christian basilica, which was later transformed into a synagogue. Islamic influence is also evident by seeing Arabic writing as part of the engravings.
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