Egypt: Synagogue Gone … Synagone

Date posted: December 15, 2009


 

In 2008, Moftasa stumbled upon an old synagogue that was turned into an office for theNational Democratic Party (Egypt's ruling party). It is amazing how the very same Egyptians who were infuriated over Switzerland's decision to ban building minarets are the same people who demolished the Magen Abraham synagogue in Egypt.

Moftasa's story started as follows [pictures within the post]:

In April 2008, in Hadayeq el Qobba I stumbled upon this synagogue which was turned into a public affairs office, NDP office, a nursery and a small mosque.

Taking photos is strictly prohibited. But I managed to snap some shots while claiming that I am studying architecture and interested in the building style.

He goes on to describe the state of the synagogue  saying:

the wooden floors are in a horrible shape, cables coming and going everywhere, horrible neon lights, overstuffed filing cabinets piled over each other rusting, broken window panes replaced with cardboard and the whole sanctity of the place, that was once there and can be vaguely felt radiating from the large dome and the star of David windows, is replaced with a grim dark grey Mogama3 feel.

Sarah Carr posted Traveller Within's photos of the synagogue and Max Strasser loved how she played on the gone synagogue and came up with synagone!

Synagone

Lina Attalah and Mohamed El Dahshan [ photos here] of Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaperfollowed up on Moftasa's earlier post about the Magen Abraham synagogue and as he wrote inhis second post

“This temple was built by the Adda family,” says Carmen Weinstein, president of the Egyptian Jewish Community Council (JCC).

"The Adda's were a Jewish Egyptian family of industrialists and bankers, who contributed to the growth of the Egyptian economy in the 1940s. I wish the state would preserve this temple, which is unique in this part of the city." For Jewish communities in Egypt before 1952 it was customary to erect neighborhood synagogues. "In each neighborhood, the local Jewish collectivity built a synagogue," says Weinstein, who also points out that while 29 synagogues once existed in Cairo, only 13 remain.

When contacted for more information about the building, Cairo Governorate officials expressed surprise with respect to the building's unusual status

According to one governorate employee who wanted to remain anonymous, the building is recognized in the district's files, but has no licenses or ownership documents.

"This means that no measures of demolition, or restoration, have been taken with respect to the building. Nevertheless, the Hadayeq el-Qubba district headquarters believe the construction to be stable and safe," he says. "Since there has been no ownership documents for the synagogue, the government has put its hand on it."

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