Thursday, September 22, 2016

Alexandria head greets Israel envoy

In what might be a first sign of normalisation,  the Israeli ambassador to Egypt, David Guvrin, made a rare visit this week to Alexandria, in the north of the country along with embassy staff, and met with the head of the Jewish 'community' Yosef Ben Gaon at the Nebi Daniel synagogue, according to this report in Ynet News. The Nebi Daniel synagogue is in desperate need of government funds for its renovation. A few months ago, the ceiling in the ladies' gallery partially collapsed.

Update: Israel National News reports the Israel ambassor as saying: " The Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue needs to be restored. The Antiquities Authority are the ones  responsible, and in recent years, they have sent delegations to see what needs to be done. It was actually decided to restore the synagogue, but coming up with the necessary sum of money - two and a half million dollars - is a problem. The Jewish community in Alexandria is working to find the money necessary for the project."

Ynet News reports:  

Guvrin was sworn in less than a month ago and submitted his credentials to Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. The focus of the visit lasted two days and there was a tour of the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in the city  and the offices of the Jewish community. The synagogue in question is a magnificent 19th century building. The  Jewish community of Alexandria consisted  up to the 1930s of the 20th century of more than 20, 000 Jews.
The ambassador met with the head of the Jewish 'community', Yosef Ben Gaon, who told him that today are only 17 Jews in Alexandria (others say there are only five - ed) and the community tries its best to maintain the magnificent synagogue and assist community members in need. (...)"We are pleased that you are here," said Ben Gaon.
השגריר גוברין בבית הכנסת על שם אליהו הנביא באלכסנדריה ()

בית הכנסת העתיק ()
The ancient synagogue
A video released by the Israeli Embassy in Egypt showed the two conversing in Arabic. Gaon expressed the hope that the Egyptian government will help renovate the place.  

"We as the state of Israel, the state of the Jewish people, are very interested in this issue and are willing to participate and cooperate with the relevant bodies in this field," said Guvrin. Ben Gaon replied: "We are all brothers. We are all one. There is no one better than another. We do the same thing. God willing, all things work out."

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