The Jewish Monuments in Alexandria

Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue

Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is situated in Nabi Daniel street. it is considered the second biggest Synagogue in the world.

The Synagogue is lying in the site of the ancient Caesareum, in 1907 during digging foundation of the present building of the synagogue an inscription dated from the age of Emperor Augustus confirmed the fact that the synagogue is built inside the Caesareum behind the famous Cleopatra needles.

 

In his book, Alexandria: History and guide, Foster explains that the Jews migrated to Alexandria around 200 BC. They first lived at the north-eastern part of the city, where a community of them, traders and financiers, used to Live. They translated the Bible into Greek and produced a magnificent work of wisdom (the Wisdom of Solomon-100 BC). Alluding slightly to the Orthodox Bible, contained in the Apocrypha, represent 14 books, sometimes related to the Old Testament of the Bible, though the Protestants do not recognize them, in addition, their author is anonymous.

A Jewish writer named, Philo Judaeus, born 25 BC and died 50 BC, was known in Alexandria. Plato described him as the greatest representative of the Hellenistic Jewish legacy in Alexandria. There are no historical records, however, of any other than him.

Some historians believe that the number of the Jews I Alexandria, following the Islamic Conquest, ranged between 40.000 and 70,000 given that Alexandria used to be the capital of the Byzantine Empire then.

Historical sources indicate that the Jews of Egypt did not live in a ghetto and were never considered by Egyptians a foreign community. Rather, they were treated as though Egyptians, who chose to embrace.

The tolerance and friendly relations were prevalent amongst the Egyptians: Muslims, Christians and Jews.

By the end of the 17th century, the present Jews’ Quarter was established at the area extending From Anfoushi to the area of Hoosh el-Najjar, Hoosh el-Ja’aan and Hoosh el-Hanafi, to France Square and Street in Manshiyya.

Alexandria used to be the capital of money and trade: the center of world banks transactions and the major houses of trade and finance, famous Jewish families emerged in Alexandria: De Menashe, Agiun, Gohar, Rollo, Detsherto, Toriel, Nassim Cohen, Smouha, Hayeem Dorrah, Marco Nadler, and Dr. Herman Shlezinger, all of whom were rich and influential.

Alexandria witnessed a remarkable activity in social services of charities, orphanages, hospitals, schools and houses of worship for the Jewish community.

Synagogues

Eliyahu Ha-Nabi Synagogue

At Nebi Daniel Street. lt is one of the oldest synagogues in Alexandria. lt was first mentioned upon establishment 1345, by Voltaire. Napoleon Bonaparte, during his invasion of Egypt, shelled it in order to erect a barrier for the archers of the artillery between the fortress of Kom el-Dekka and al-Bahar 1798. In 1815, by orders from Muhammad Ali, Ruler of Egypt, it was re-established. lt was later destroyed to be reconstructed in its present form 1881. The synagogue includes the headquarters of the Jewish community in Alexandria. lt is considered one of the most magnificent all over the world and it is the only one where religious rituals are observed, to date.

Architecturally, the synagogue was established as a rectangular on the Basilica style. The second floor includes terraces for ladies. The main entrance is on the western front, topped by the hexagonal star and Hebrew inscriptions. Inside, the building consists
of three colonnades, containing two rows of columns and the altar in the eastern side, made of deluxe marble and flanked by marble columns, with a half-circled arch, and next to these, metal columns and metal ornaments.

Inside the Holy Compartment, folds of leather and paper of the Tora Books. In front of the altar, there is the room for prayer. The hall contains rows of wooden seats and glass and silver chandeliers hang down the roof. The building is also home to the Jewish Court, assigned to judge every matter related to the application of Judaism, in addition to a rare library including everything that has to do with the ancient Jewish legacy.

In 1928, a special section for prayer hymns and music was established. Not only did the section compose music, but it conducted studies on the Spanish Jewish Folklore, and studies on classical music of the Jews of Egypt. The Supreme Council of Antiquities registered it in 1981 as an antique. , from 2018, it is under restoration.

Sharashon Synagogue

It is located at Orabi Square, Manshiyya. lt was established by Baron Jacob De Menache 1860. It was renovated and extended in 1912. lt consists of 2 storeys. The altar is at the eastern side, topped by a dome, whilst the second floor is dedicated to prayer. lt was partially destroyed during the Tripartite Aggression on Egypt 1956 and then it was restored in the last decade. The ministry of Antiquities registered it as an antique, and in a wait to start a restoration process to be opened to the public.