Jewish history in Egypt begins with the enslavement of the Jews under the pharaohs and their subsequent deliverance by Moses. By the time of the founding of the Jewish State in 1948 many Jews returned to Israel on their own, but when Egypt went to war with Israel, any Jews remaining in Egypt were expelled. Monuments to the Jewish religion are scarce in this country, so this synagogue is open as a museum and no longer is used for services.
Upon entering you will find a marble shrine which contains a rock that Moses supposedly prayed at. The building was put up in the 8th century as a church and later converted to a synagogue, so this tradition might be in doubt. Perhaps the Coptic church valued the same rock and there is something to it. The space has many of the same features of early Christian churches in terms of long nave, and two side aisles, similar roof construction, and so forth. The space is flooded with light from windows on both sides of the nave and the place has a hallowed feeling about it. During restoration in the nineteenth century, thousands of documents were discovered in the synagogue's treasury dating back to the Middle Ages.
On the day of my visit there were lots of people paying their respects to this monument. Pay close attention to street signs showing the way. Signage isn't so good in Coptic Cairo. The old city lies about twelve feet below the level of the modern city.
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