They had stayed away from the official inauguration of the restored Maimonides Synagogue on 7 March on the grounds that it was a 'religious' ceremony. Now Egyptian culture minister Farouk Hosny and Antiquities Authority Chief Zahi Hawass have found another excuse to cancel today's second ceremony: Israeli aggression against Muslims and the 'provocative' drinking of 'alcoholic beverages' at the earlier ceremony ( presumably a celebratory Le'haim over a glass of champagne). Ynet News carries this Associated Press report:
Egypt has canceled the inauguration of a restored synagogue citing the Israeli oppression of Muslims in the territories as well as excesses by Jews during an earlier ceremony at the synagogue.
Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities restored the ruined Ben Maimon synagogue in Cairo's ancient Jewish quarter and was set to unveil it to the press Sunday following its rededication a week earlier in a private ceremony.
SCA chief Zahi Hawass said in a statement that the cancellation of ceremony comes following "provocative" activities by Jews at rededication, including drinking alcoholic beverages, as well as "aggression by Israeli authorities" against Muslim sanctuaries.
The synagogue was named after Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, a famous physician, philosopher and Torah scholar who was born in Cordoba, Spain, in 1135. He eventually moved to Cairo, where he died in 1204 and was buried inside the synagogue. The remains of the rabbi, who is known in the West as Moses Maimonides, were later transferred to the Holy Land.
The synagogue was built in an area called Haret al-Yahoud, or "The Jewish Quarter," a reflection of how medieval Cairo was divided up into religious and ethnic neighborhoods. It was declared an antiquity in 1986 due to its historic architecture and religious importance, Hawass said.
The area around the synagogue is now known as el-Gamalia. It used to be a slum filled with garbage-covered dirt streets until the government recently cleaned up the area to attract tourists.
Article by Michele Mazel, wife of Zvi, former Israeli envoy to Egypt (French- thanks: Levana)