Seemingly, the renovation of old Jewish quarters and Jewish shrines is the latest trend in Arab capitals. In August 2009 restoration work began at the beautiful Magen Avraham Synagogue in the Wadi Jamil quarter of Beirut. The Lebanese Company for the Development and Reconstruction of Beirut’s Central District (Solidere) contributed $150,000, while Lebanese Jews donated the rest.
Today the work at Magen Avraham is near completion.
In March, the Maimonides Synagogue in Cairo reopened after two years of restoration work sponsored by the Egyptian government. Ambassador Yitzhak Levanon attended the opening ceremony and so did a dozen Israeli and American rabbis; however, Egyptian officials were absent on the excuse that the ceremony was of a “religious nature.”
The formal opening of the synagogue which Culture Minister Farouk Hosni
was supposed to attend was canceled after the Egyptian media revealed
that wine was to be served by the Jewish organizers of the reception.
Meanwhile in Iraq the authorities plan massive renovation work at the
site of the prophet Ezekiel’s grave in Al-Kifl. A team from The New York
Times who recently visited and filmed the shrine showed that the grave
is now under control of the Shi’ite wakf and is treated as Muslim holy
site. The Jerusalem Post has reported that the renovation work endangers
the signs of Jewish presence at the shrine.