Egypt halts restoration of Alexandria synagogue

Point of No Return exclusive

News has reached Point of No Return that the Egyptian authorities have cancelled a plan to restore the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria. The 19th century synagogue is the largest in the Middle East and widely regarded as one of the most beautiful in the world.

The Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities took the decision some two years ago to undertake major restoration work on the crumbling fabric of the synagogue. Two other synagogues in Alexandria had also been earmarked for restoration: the 17th century Capucci and the Hanan, which was built in 1900.

The restoration budget had been approved: the money would come from the American Fund for restoring antiquities in Egypt, with help from the American Jewish Committee (AJC). The Engineering Faculty at Cairo University had the plans ready.

The Egyptian authorities have not given a reason for cancelling the restoration, but clearly they are putting some distance between themselves and the Mubarak regime, a major casualty of the ‘Arab Spring’. But this time, ‘security’ objections won’t wash.

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