The Synagogue in Alexandria 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
A member of the Jewish community of Alexandria on Monday denied reports that
Egyptian authorities had canceled Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur prayers in the
city – citing security concerns – saying he would personally lead the services
during the High Holidays.
Youssef Gaon, the caretaker of the Eliyahu
Hanavi synagogue, was quoted by a Jewish official as saying prayers will be held
at the 180-year-old house of worship this year, albeit without an ordained rabbi
“The only difference is a rabbi and cantor who usually lead
the services were denied entry to the country,” Gaon, who is in close contact
with the remaining Jews in the country, told The Jerusalem Post
on Monday reports claiming the government in Cairo had canceled Rosh Hashana and
Yom Kippur prayers in Alexandria emerged in Israel and Egypt.
the end of Jewish life in Egypt,” Livana Ramez, identified as the president of
the international association of Egyptian Jews in Israel, was quoted as
However, “Gaon said he would lead the services together with
other members of the community [in Alexandria]. Prayers at the synagogue in
Cairo will be held as usual. The rabbi who flies in every year was given a
visa,” said the official, who asked to remain anonymous not to jeopardize ties
with Egyptian authorities.
The vast majority of the historic and once
numerous Jewish community of Egypt left or were forced to leave in the decades
following the creation of the State of Israel.
From a peak of about
80,000 in 1922 only a few dozen mostly elderly members currently remain in
Alexandria and Cairo where they live low-key lives.
Last January a Jewish
pilgrimage to the tomb of a Jewish sage in the Nile Delta was canceled due to
security concerns. Nonetheless, the source who spoke to Gaon said he had not
noticed a perceptible change in policy by the government towards the Jewish
community since the election of an Islamist government and president earlier
“From conversations with Jews in Egypt and my visits there I
have not seen anything different,” the official said. “Even at the height of
protests the Jewish community was left alone.”