Rabbis to Egypt: Don’t cancel pilgrimage to grave

Group says Egypt’s decision to prohibit Jews from visiting the burial site of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira violates human rights.

By GIL STERN STERN SHEFLER
January 13, 2012 05:07
1 minute read.
Pilgrims at grave of Rabbi Abuhatzeira in Egypt

abir yaakov grave Abuhatzeira egypt 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Jewish pilgrims should be allowed to visit the grave of a 19th-century sage in Egypt next week to take part in an annual ceremony, a Jewish group told Cairo on Thursday.

The Conference of European Rabbis said Egypt’s decision to prohibit Jews from visiting the burial site of Rabbi Yaakov Abuhatzeira in the Nile delta this year violated human rights and sent the world a message of religious intolerance.

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“The world is looking at how Egypt protects the rights of all religious minorities in the country,” CER President Chief Rabbi Goldschmidt said. “To now describe as ‘inappropriate’ a peaceful visit to the tomb of a sainted Egyptian rabbi, which has been going on for decades, is an affront to the principles of tolerance and human rights for which many Egyptians laid down their lives during the Arab Spring.”

A report from Wednesday cited Cairo as saying the event set to take place this year on January 19 could not take place due to “the political and security situation in the country.”

Each year hundreds of believers visit the tomb of Abuhatzeira, a mystic who died in Egypt en route from Jerusalem to Morocco in 1880. In 2009, then-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak assured Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the pilgrimage would take place as usual, amid concerns it might be canceled that year.

Last year Tunisia – the crucible of the Arab Spring protest movement – canceled the traditional Lag B’Omer celebration on the island of Jerba, also which draws thousands of Jews from around the world, amid security fears.

The president of the CER, an organization which represents rabbis in 40 countries, said his “hopes and prayers continue to be with those who are fighting for a new Middle East based on respect for people of all faiths.”


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