Synagogues and Jewish Heritage in Cairo: Reconfiguring Past and Present

Oct 19, 2018
10:30 AM to 12:30 PM
102 Weaver

Yoram Meital, University of Pennsylvania, Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies, Ben Gurion University

While only four Jews still live in the Cairo, a dozen synagogues are still standing. Against this backdrop, a significant attitudinal shift of the Egyptian authorities is developing toward the heritage of the Jewish community and its assets, first and foremost its synagogues. This lecture introduces the Jewish Synagogues Study Project, which was initiated by the Jewish Community of Cairo in 2017. The project includes drawings and historical documentations of Cairo’s synagogues; restoration of these synagogues and their artifacts, and reuse of several synagogues as interfaith centers for local residents. Through a multi-dimensional study of the synagogue’s physical design and activities, it provides a rereading of the ways in which different sectors of Cairene Jewry developed a modern Jewish-Egyptian identity, and it examines the ways in which Egypt engages and reengages with its Jewish past. This seemingly "minor" issue is indicative of much deeper and broader processes and transformations that the Egyptian society is undergoing.

Co-sponsored by the Center for Global Studies.

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