a savoir

Egyptian Mail 2006


"Only take heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen"

(Deuteronomy 4:9)

Two different approaches prevail amongst Egyptian Jewish groups in the Diaspora regarding the future of our heritage in Egypt, which do not always coincide with the opinions of the remaining local communities.


The view of the two Jewish communities still active in Cairo and Alexandria is that the entire cultural and religious heritage is their exclusive property to manage for as long as they remain present. They see the role of the Diaspora as limited to financing its preservation locally, or to accept that others should do so. This position would be justified if either or both of these two communities still numbered sufficient people to guarantee continuity, and if financial management were transparent. It is difficult to accept that 2 or 3 remaining individuals exclusively manage a heritage built up over a number of generations by tens of thousands of people of all origins and nationalities

With due respect and gratitude to the local community leaders for preserving this heritage under extremely difficult circumstances, the cultural and religious heritage of many generations is essentially collective. Those descendants who so wish are entitled to a say in its preservation, however far away circumstances may have driven them.

Some abroad would like the entire heritage to be restored and exported out of Egypt, leaving the authorities responsible for what remains, as we should not pay twice for assets that we no longer enjoy. This approach would be tenable if it did not ignore the rich and fertile historical past of Jews in Egypt; a past, whose preservation is in our best self-interest, despite the lack of recognition for the harm done. Moreover this position, which flies in the face of local conditions, concerns itself exclusively with physical objects. It does not address the objective of all Heritage namely, preservation of Memory in its space and across time.

Preservation of our community’s heritage is the fundamental aim of our Association. We seek a fair and sensitive solution taking into account local circumstances and legislation as well as the aspirations of our community.


Défilé de Bat- Mitzva à Alexandrie
avec M. Gohar, les rabbins Tsivoni & Angel

Le personnel de la communauté d'Alexandrie avec le M.Grand Rabbin Haïm Nahum Effendi.

Personnel de la communauté d'Alexandrie

The Egyptian authorities claim that the issue does not concern them. The local communities maintain the contrary and understandably refuse to take any initiative without a clear directive from the authorities. The current climate, where political tensions are erroneously associated with religion, laced with an indiscriminate legislation disregarding the past, regrettably stands in the way of an altruistic analysis conducive to reconciliation between Jews and Egyptians.

Irrespective of the boundaries of legislation, or the definition of rightful ownership, we do not understand the threat that ceding the registers or even a copy, may pose to the authorities, nor their interest in depriving us of it. Common sense comes naturally to the children of the Nile. We fail to comprehend why the same authorities accept, or think that we should accept, that the exclusive right of ownership to the civil and religious identity of some 200,000 individuals would be granted to the last one to switch off the lights.

This is therefore our starting point.