abir yaakov grave Abuhatzeira egypt 311.
Egypt has cancelled the annual pilgrimage to the tomb of Rabbi Yaakov
Abuhatzeira, some 160 kilometers northwest of Cairo in the Nile Delta, because
of the country’s current instability, the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram reported on
its website Wednesday.
According to the report, local authorities in the
governorate where the shrine is located advised the military authorities to
cancel the pilgrimage, scheduled for later this week to mark the Hebrew date of
the rabbi’s death.
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Israeli Foreign Ministry officials, however, said
Jerusalem had been in contact with the Egyptians in an attempt to ensure that
the pilgrimage takes place. These efforts were being carried out despite the
travel advisory issued by the National Security Council’s Counter-Terrorism Bureau warning
against Israeli visits to Egypt due to “concrete risks.”
also known as the Abir Yaakov, was a 19thcentury rabbi and mystic who lived in
Morocco and died in Damanhur, near Alexandria, during a trip to Palestine in
1880. He was the grandfather of the Baba Sali, the noted kabbalist who died in
1984 and is buried in Netivot.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los
Angeles, drawing on a report from Egypt’s state-run MENA news agency, said
Tuesday that a group – led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Freedom and
Justice Party and joined by Mohamed ElBaradei’s presidential campaign and the
Nasserist Trend – had vowed to form a human chain to prevent “Zionists” from
traveling to Damanhur. According to the report, the Muslim Brotherhood called
the pilgrimage “unpopular and unacceptable legally and
Pilgrimages from Israel to the site began after the 1979
Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty but have been a source of controversy in recent
years. They were banned by Egyptian courts in 2001 and 2004 due to the second
intifada. In 2008, Egyptian parliamentarians and activists lobbied the
government to end them, saying visitors behaved in a “provocative” manner. In
2009, just after Operation Cast Lead, authorities cancelled the pilgrimage
After the tradition was renewed in 2010, Egyptian authorities
arrested 25 Muslim extremists suspected of planning to attack Israelis attending
the event. They limited the number of visas issued for travel to the grave to
some 500, considerably less than the thousands granted in previous
Last year, signs reading “Death to the Jews” greeted the 550
Israelis who made the trek, which was presaged by a campaign mounted by
opposition parties – now the country’s leading political parties – against
allowing “Zionists” into the country.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate
dean of the Wiesenthal Center, issued a statement stating it was ominous that
“as they ascend to power in the Egyptian parliament, the Muslim Brotherhood’s
first act is to curb the religious freedom of Jews. In their worldview, there is
no respect for the traditions of Jews, dead or alive.”
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