Monday, September 05, 2016

Documenting Jewish artifacts in Egypt

ANTIQUITIES: Egypt documenting Jewish artifacts (Khalid Hassan, Al-Monitor).
Egypt has begun registering Jewish antiquities in an attempt to protect them from theft and neglect — an important step forward in preserving history. However, the government still faces criticism for not making good on promises to renovate the country’s synagogues — or, for that matter, Egyptian historical and archaeological sites in general.

Jewish antiquities have always been part of Egypt’s cultural heritage, and government officials have said they are also part of the world’s heritage and the property of all mankind, not only Egypt. And so, Saeed Helmy, the head of the Islamic and Coptic Monuments Department at the Ministry of Antiquities, is calling on countries around the world to financially support Egypt in restoring and preserving the antiquities.

Helmy, who is in charge of the Jewish monuments in Egypt, told Al-Monitor in mid-August that the country has been unable to finance such projects because of its financial state. Egypt’s economy has suffered since the January 25 Revolution in 2011, and tourism has been decimated.

“I know very well that the Egyptian monuments — including the Jewish antiquities — capture the attention of people all around the world. Therefore, I’d like to make it clear that Egypt pays considerable attention to its monuments whether they are Islamic, Coptic or Christian, and that is what I asserted during my meeting with the [US] cultural attache at the US Embassy [in Egypt] on Aug. 2. However, we need the support of the countries that are interested in cultural heritage in order to protect these great antiquities.”
Thematically related post here. More on the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo (source of the Cairo Geniza [cf. here and links]) is here and links. The restoration of the Maimonides Synagogue, also in Cairo, was noted here and here (cf. here and here).