Thursday, August 18, 2005

Shabbat at the Maadi synagogue, Cairo

"It was an odd feeling, coming to pray in this place. As we stood on worn oriental carpets, praying by the light of the art deco candelabras, I felt as if I had gone back in time. I wonder what the people who built this synagogue would have thought if they could have known that one day their community would spread all over the world and that people speaking Hebrew--Israelis--would replace them as the worshippers in their synagogue."

Sophia Aron reports for Haaretz on the only working synagogue in Cairo:

"Neighborhood residents used to say that if it lights up, it must be Yom Kippur, but now the old Maadi synagogue in Cairo is lit every Shabbat. My interest in the Maadi synagogue began two years ago, when my father and I visited the famous Ben Ezra synagogue in Coptic Cairo. The Ben Ezra is famous for its beautiful interior and the amazing texts recovered in its' geniza, the Jewish burial place for holy texts. But sadly, nobody prays there anymore. I had read in my guidebook that there was another synagogue in Cairo. The Maadi synagogue was occasionally in use and was open to visitors, provided you gave a little baksheesh to the old gabbi (caretaker).
Read article in full.

More about the Maadi synagogue here.