Daily Israel Report

Jews Barred from Cairo's Maimonides Synagogue

The Egyptian government has announced it will not allow Jews to pray in Cairo's newly-restored Maimonides Synagogue.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 3/28/2010, 12:50 PM / Last Update: 3/28/2010, 1:21 PM

The Egyptian government has announced that it will not allow Jews to pray in Cairo's newly-restored Maimonides Synagogue, in retaliation for Israel's security response to Arab rioting on the Temple Mount.

“The Al-Aqsa Mosque is part of the heritage of the Palestinian Arabs and Israel is not entitled to block them from it,” said Dr. Zahi Hawass, Secretary-General of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

A Qatari newspaper quoted Hawass in a telephone interview late last week as saying the Maimonides Synagogue would be treated an an Egyptian antiquity, not a Jewish house of worship.

Nor will he allow the Egyptian Jewish community to administer the site – a direct response, he said, to the “provocative practices carried out by the Jews in their celebration which was held in the temple.” Hawass was referring to the wine served at the opening of the synagogue and the joyous dancing with which the celebration was carried out – both practices which he said were offensive to a billion Muslims.

The report “confirmed the temple will not be delivered to the Jewish community in Egypt in any way,” with Hawass stressing that “he would not allow any Jew to pray in the temple, and would not allow any Israeli to pray in the temple.”

Previous reports indicated that Egyptian authorities would allow Jews to pray in the synagogue.

Hawass also denied reports that American Jews had helped pay for the restoration of the synagogue, which he said had cost the Council several million dollars. However, he said, Egypt will continue to restore its ancient synagogues, with the next one to be in Alexandria, the Temple of the Prophet Daniel.