Monday, March 08, 2010

Restored 19th Century synagogue re-opens

Google / AFP

The 19th-century synagogue of Maimonides in Cairo's ancient Jewish quarter reopened Sunday after a nearly two-year restoration by Egyptian authorities, participants at the opening told AFP.

They said some 150 people attended the opening, including Yitzhak Levanon and Margaret Scobey, the ambassadors of Israel and the United States respectively.

About a dozen rabbis from Israel and abroad also were at the ceremony.

"When I first set foot here only five years ago, the synagogue was in ruins and its roof opened to the sky", said Rabbi Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Baker praised Egyptian authorities for recognising that Jewish religious sites are also an integral part of Egyptian heritage and Egyptian culture, and for leading the restoration project, the AJC said in a statement.

Egyptian officials were absent from the ceremony, and Culture Minister Faruq Hosni explained that was because Sunday's opening was a purely religious ceremony.

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