The memory of an Egyptian-Jewish community is fast disappearing, and much of its heritage has allegedly been sold off - with the community leaders' blessing. Amiram Barkat reports in Haaretz (with thanks Abert; Lily)
"Only a handful of Jews remained in Cairo after 1967. The luxurious villas the rich Jewish families built on the bank of the Nile became museums or foreign embassies, but most of the community's property was preserved. In fact, it was the Israel-Egypt peace treaty in 1979 that dealt a heavy blow to the community, because of the tremendous momentum it lent to the illegal commerce in Judaica and other valuables.
"In many cases these liquidation sales had the blessing of the community's leaders. The Ben Ezra Synagogue, which was renovated and restored with the generous assistance of the Bronfman family, is nearly the only structure that escaped the looting.
"Cairo's Jewish community today, like that of Alexandria, consists of only one person. Carmen Weinstein, a businesswoman in her seventies, is courageously attempting to preserve the remains, under impossible conditions. The Egyptian press routinely accuses her of having ties with Israel's Mossad. For the more militant of former Egyptian Jews, Weinstein is a traitor who seeks to transfer community property to the Egyptians in exchange for financial reward.
Famous Egyptian-born Jews include Israeli author Haim Sabato, British businessman and politician Sir Ronald Cohen and the U.S.-based media mogul Haim Saban. No influential Egyptian-born Jews, however, have sponsored efforts to save community property remaining in the country or to commemorate the community's magnificent past. Jews of Egyptian origin around the world have established many organizations, but most are one-person shows that waste their time on struggles for honor and prestige. Some, like author and peace activist Prof. Ada Aharoni of Haifa, dedicate themselves heart and soul to preserving the memory of Egyptian Jewry, but regrettably they are too few.
"Only 50 years have passed since the second exodus from Egypt, but the term refers to the dismantling of a community whose existence no longer means anything to most of the world's Jews."
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