Sunday, August 23, 2009

Egypt -- Restoration Work on Cairo Synagogue

This is a bit out of the region, but still... The Associated Press reports on restoration work at the Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue in Cairo, putting it into political context.

The AP reports that the Egyptian head of antiquities, Zahi Hawass, denied the restoration was meant to assuage Jewish anger at Egyptian culture minister Hosni Farouk, "who outraged many Jews with his comments in April 2008 vowing to burn any Israeli books found in Egypt's famed Library of Alexandria."

"I believe these rumors were started to hurt Farouk Hosni's bid to become the next director general of UNESCO," said Hawass, who reports to the culture minister. "The Jewish monuments are Egyptian monuments ... they are part of us and part of our culture."

The synagogue was named after Rabbi Moses Ben Maimon, a famous physician, philosopher and Torah scholar who was born in Cordoba, Spain, in 1135 A.D. He eventually moved to Cairo, where he died in 1204 and was buried inside the synagogue. The remains of the rabbi, who is known in the West as Moses Maimonides, were later transferred to the Holy Land.

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