At the age of 67, Haroun is the youngest of the eight remaining Egyptian Jews.
Yolande Mizrahi, in her 80s but still vital, sat in one of the rebuilt wooden benches of the synagogue. Although her family left Egypt for France, Italy and Israel, she remained and reveled in returning to the synagogue which she attended as a child.
“I have traveled a lot and I have always returned. This is my country, I belong here. Why should I leave? asked Mizrahi, adding that she hopes her family will visit to see the refurbished shul.
“Egyptian officials are hoping that the synagogue will become a tourist attraction that backs up Sisi’s assertion that the country respects religious minorities and their heritage.
"If it wasn’t for [President Abdel Fattah] al-Sissi, this would have never been done. A lot of things have changed since he’s taken over,” Mizrahi told AFP. In 2018, Sissi singled out preservation of places of worship for Egyptian Jews and Coptic Christians as a priority for his government.
“If Egypt has Jews again, we will build synagogues for them,” he said.
Of course, that was an empty gesture, but the restoration of the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue enables the government to place a feather of tolerance in its cap. And for the few remaining Jews of Alexandria, they can carry on with the knowledge that their heritage will not completely disappear.
“This is recognition of Egypt’s Jews who were neglected for over sixty years,” Haroun told AFP. “It is recognition that we have always been here and that we have contributed to a lot of things just like any other Egyptian.”
Read article in full
Repair news was simply good PR for Egypt
The Times erases ethnic cleansing of Jews from Egypt