Sunday, August 03, 2008

Max Salama, Alexandria's last Jewish leader, dies

Interior of the Eliahou Hanavi synagogue in Nebi Daniel St (courtesy: Lucienne Carasso Bulow)

Dr Max Salama, leader of the Alexandrian Jewish community for the last eight years, has died aged 92. No Kaddish was recited for him, as there is only a handful of elderly Jews - mostly women - left in Egypt.

Born into an old Alexandrian family, Max Salama was the King of Egypt's personal dentist. In his latter years he dedicated himself to preserving Egypt's Jewish heritage. He helped restore the Nebi Daniel synagogue, repairing the roof, the entrance steps and the cemetery walls, and adding attractive grounds.

Yves Fedida, of the International Nebi Daniel Association, pays this tribute to Max Salama:

"He put the community on a firm financial footing once again. He encouraged a minyan (male quorum) to come from Israel to celebrate the High Holidays so that the community could affirm and be proud of its identity. He was able to protect the community archives from spiteful depredations, as well as the dignity of the Ark and Torah scrolls from rough handling by the official inspectors on their frequent visits. The gates of the synagogue were always open. He ensured free access to the cemeteries. He supported the ill and the needy.

It was a privilege to have known such a determined individual, in spite of his advanced years, and we salute him."


Aimee Kligmanm said...

I spoke to someone who knew Dr. Salama personally, and had talked to him about a few months ago. He tells me that Salama was never the King's dentist..
Who to believe?

Anonymous said...

Mme Kligman, I beleive Dr Salama was a good man, he did great things for the Jewish remaining community of Alexandria. If he was or was not the king's dentist does not make any difference.
Leon Mosseri.

Anonymous said...

Max Salama was my family dentist when we lived in Alexandria. My mother used to bring him Matza from Paris when it could no longer be found in Egypt. We are originally Palestinian from Haifa. Max Salama was a really good dentist and, more importantly, a wonderful man. He remains in our hearts and in our prayers. He had no children, and I am not Jewish, but I will find a way to read Kaddish for him.

bataween said...

I am very touched by your comment, Karim

Anonymous said...

My name is Dr. ELEBIARY. Max Salama was our family dentist and a great friend of us. I still remember the last time I went to visit his office (I was 14 years old by then; now I'm 53 yo. The office site was "Midan Al Kartoum" just in front of the Faculty of Pharmacy & Medicine, and, of the jewish cementery. We miss you a lot Dr. Salama

bataween said...

Very nice to hear from you. By all accounts he was a good dentist and a good man.

Anonymous said...

Did he have a butterfly collection?
The he was our family dentist too. He was nice to kids (I was 10 when I left to attend school in Greece).
Although most kids hate dentists, I was very happy to go there: to see the new butterflies and him. His clinic was very "attractive": clean, modern.
I didn't know he was Jewish, up to now. It would have not made any difference in the really multicultural Egypt.

Adel Darwish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Adel Darwish said...

I should have written here earlier, but the thought only came to my head after a long call with my sister ( family all over the world now) . I am currently writing my ( sixth) book on Alexandria during my childhood and teenage years ( between the second War years until 1960) ; I just remembered the late Dr Max salama who was my father's dentist, my grandfather's and treated me an my sister... I should have posted here earlier, but i thought today, when I was writing a section in the book about the Jewish contribution to Alexandria, especially on the medical and health welfare; I remembered Dr Salama. The section in my book starts with the incident when I broke my arm in February 1949 and was treated in the middle of the night at the Israeli Hospital on Rue Abu-Keir in Alexandria. It was just a few months after The war of Independence , which started when Egypt ( encouraged by the British) lead Arab armies in a war against Israel; yet the Israeli Hospital in Alexandria was treating ( for free) Egyptian Muslims from the poorer quarter of A-Hadarah, on the southern side of the railway line behind the Hospital this continued even after Colonel Nasser started the ethnic cleansing of Alexandria .. the then cosmopolitan prosperous Alexandria before the 1956 political earthquake

Adel Darwish said...

can Anonymous Karim Sahyoun
please get in touch?
thanks Alex