CAIRO – 19 April 2022: The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, represented by the Supreme Council of Antiquities, started a project to restore the Ben Ezra Synagogue in the Religious Complex of Old Cairo.
Secretary General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities Mustafa Waziri explained that the synagogue is located inside the Babylon Fortress. It is of great importance as it is the oldest synagogue in Egypt and the Middle East. He explained that a joint committee has been formed in cooperation with the Projects Sector of the Supreme Council of Antiquities to launch the synagogue’s restoration project, as it was last restored in 1991.
Head of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Antiquities Sector at the Supreme Council of Antiquities Osama Talaat indicated that the synagogue was named after Ben Ezra, the religious Jewish scholar and philosopher.
Inside the synagogue, a group of historical documents known as the "Cairo Genizah" was found. The Ben Ezra Synagogue is constructed in the style of cathedrals and is heading towards Jerusalem.
The synagogue consists of two floors, like the rest of the Jewish synagogues. The first floor is for men and the second for women. The center houses the preaching platform where the Torah is read, and in the east is the Ark of the Covenant, which contains the Torah scrolls on a high platform obscured by a carved door and a curtain from the inside.
The decorative forms of Ben Ezra Synagogue reflect the artistic styles often found in Egypt with their multiple influences from the ancient period, the Byzantine or Islamic eras.
For his part, Assistant Secretary General for the Restoration of Antiquities and Museums and Chairman of the Committee Mustafa Abdel-Fattah explained that the restoration work began in the Holy of Holies, and included preliminary cleaning of the walls and floral decorations. Restoration works also include insulating the roofs to protect against the effect of moisture resulting from the intrusion of rainwater; treating the color layers from the influence of different weather factors, which resulted in the accumulation of dirt; and treating cracks. Abdel-Fattah also stressed that all restoration work will be carried out using the latest methods and equipment.