‘Haggadah’ will record modern exodus from Egypt

 A new 400-page ‘Haggadah’ compiled by Cairo-born retired academic and poet Ada Aharoni is about to go to print. It  contains 68 testimonies by Jews forced into a modern-day exodus from Egypt. JTA report in the Times of Israel:

JTA — Frolicking with her fiance in the cool
waters of the Suez Canal, Lilian Abada would never have imagined she was
about to experience the first of a string of events that would
ultimately lead her to flee her native Egypt for Israel with only one

When Abada and her future husband, Nisso,
emerged from the water that day in 1956, a security agent was waiting
for them. The two teenagers were arrested for spying for Israel and
interrogated for days. They were released and then re-arrested, along
with hundreds of Jews. Finally, they fled to Israel.

“We realized the Egyptians wanted us out,” Abada said.

Abada’s account of her family’s flight is set
to appear in “The Golden Age of the Jews From Egypt,” a forthcoming book
that aims to preserve the memory of this North African Jewish community
against what many Egyptian Jews see as an attempt by the country’s
Islamist leaders to blot out their history.

The rise to power of the Muslim Brotherhood
last year has generated much angst in the Egyptian Jewish Diaspora,
descendants of a 2,000-year-old community all but destroyed in a mass
emigration in the two decades following Israel’s establishment in 1948 —
a period that community members refer to as the “second Exodus.”

Eli Haim, right, went on vacation with his parents and younger brother in Port Said in 1945. (Courtesy of Ada Aharoni via JTA)

Eli Haim, right, went on vacation with his parents and younger brother in Port Said in 1945. (Courtesy of Ada Aharoni via JTA)

In the wake of the election of Mohamed Morsi
to the presidency last year, there were reports that Egypt had denied
entry visas to Rabbi Avraham Dayan and several others who were due to
travel to Alexandria to lead High Holiday services at the city’s Eliyahu
Hanavi synagogue. Services apparently will not be held there on the
upcoming Passover holiday.

Jewish sources also say a nascent restoration
project of some of Cairo’s crumbling synagogues has been suspended,
despite the 2010 announcement by Egypt’s then-culture minister that the
government would shoulder the cost of the project.

In January, a Muslim Brotherhood politician
resigned as a presidential adviser after he drew international attention
by calling on Egyptian Jews to return. More recently, authorities
censored a film on Egyptian Jews that was to be screened in Egyptian
cinemas, though the director, Amir Ramses, tweeted this week that the
film will be screened later this month after producers “won the war
against security forces.”

“It appears that under President Mohamed
Morsi, Egyptian authorities are trying to tear out the pages about the
Jewish minority from the book of Egyptian history,” said Ada Aharoni,
the editor of “The Golden Age of the Jews From Egypt,” which serves as a
kind of Egyptian Jewish haggadah.

A Cairo-born retired sociologist, writer and
researcher at Haifa’s Technion, Aharoni initiated the book project,
which is being prepared for print just as Jews around the world prepare
to remember their own ancestors’ flight from Egypt on Passover. But the
holiday was not Aharoni’s main consideration in terms of timing.

Living witnesses to the uprooting of Egyptian
Jewry are dying out, she said. And the recent censorship of the
documentary film created an additional sense of urgency*.

Avi Casuto sits on his father's lap in Cairo before their departure to Israel in 1956. (Courtesy of Ada Aharoni via JTA)

Avi Casuto sits on his father’s lap in Cairo before their departure to Israel in 1956. (Courtesy of Ada Aharoni via JTA)

“This film claimed Jews had it good in Egypt
and left only to America and France, not Israel — and still it was
banned,” she said. “The Morsi regime is determined to delete our history
in Egypt and our heritage. In a way, Morsi’s regime wants to return to
periods even darker than the one that caused the Second Exodus.”

The 400-page book contains 68 testimonies and
will be published in Israel in the coming weeks and sold in bookshops.
Though most of it is written in Hebrew, some accounts appear only in
French, a tribute to the sizable community of Egyptian Jews that settled
in France.

According to Aharoni, only half of the 75,000
to 100,000 Jews who left Egypt settled in Israel. Many went to France,
but also to the United States, the United Kingdom and even Brazil.

Read article in full

*The film has since been cleared for screening

One Comment

  • I am happy to say that the girls coming out of my school have shown what they are capable of!


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