President of Egyptian Jewish Community dies at 82

Weinstein dies after suffering from numerous health troubles; participated in synagogue renovation day before death.

Carmen Weinstein 370 (photo credit: Egyptian Jewish website Bassatine News)
Carmen Weinstein 370
(photo credit: Egyptian Jewish website Bassatine News)
Carmen Weinstein, the longtime president of the Jewish Community of Cairo – which had previously been headed by her late mother – died in her home in Zamalek early Saturday morning.
She had been suffering severely from blood clots in her legs, and had been warned by doctors to desist from physical activity. But Weinstein, 82, kept up her community activities to the very end, and on Friday had been in Maadi to inspect renovation works at the Maadi Synagogue.
Nadia S. Haroun, a member of the Egyptian Jewish community, told the Post “This is a big loss for us.” Haroun added that there would be a meeting as soon as possible to choose a new leader.
Asked if there is a chance the community could break up and that people would leave the country, especially considering the political situation, Haroun responded that this is not the time to leave.
“This is our country and we have lived through four wars so why should we leave now? What can happen to us that has not already happened?”
Zvi Mazel, who served as Israel’s sixth ambassador to Egypt, and his wife, Michelle, knew Weinstein well. Mazel, who also is a contributor to The Jerusalem Post, told the Post that he had met her for the first time in 1980 while he was working at the embassy in Egypt.
“She was loyal to the community even though it was very small and she was under pressure from the Egyptian security, she managed all the holidays,” he said. “She was a frequent guest at my place as ambassador and was invited to every reception that the embassy held.”
Michelle Mazel, a writer, and the wife of Zvi Mazel, was in frequent contact with Weinstein until she passed away.
She told the Post, “[Weinstein] was a staunch defender of the community and insisted on holding the Seder even though the doctors told her not to” for health reasons, adding that “she never thought about leaving; she felt very deeply Egyptian, even though that may be hard to understand.”
Michelle said that Weinstein was an intelligent woman who devoted her life to the community.
One of her key responsibilities was to maintain the Jewish cemetery.
When Weinstein’s mother, Esther, died, she took over the leadership of the community during difficult times.
“There were no men in the community, only women, and there was only a minyan if there were foreigners or tourists present,” said Michelle. “This is a very sad day for the Egyptian Jewish community.”
Asked by the Post if she had any last wishes, Michelle said, “She probably would want someone to continue taking care of the cemetery and what is left of the community.”
Last month, Weinstein organized the community Seder which was held at the Sha’ar Hashamayim Synagogue and was conducted by Rabbi Marc Alfassi, who came specially from France, just as he had come for Rosh Hashana to conduct services for the community.
Alfassi will travel to Cairo again on Wednesday to conduct Weinstein’s funeral, which will be attended by Ambassador to Egypt Yaakov Amitai.