Jewish leader Carmen Weinstein dies

Carmen Weinstein, the feisty leader of Cairo’s tiny Jewish community, died yesterday, aged 82. This AP obituary downplays the mass expulsion of the Jewish community, which should be seen not just in the context of Egypt’s conflict with Israel, but the harassment and ethnic cleansing of non-Muslims generally. Always careful not to ‘rock the boat’ with the authorities, Mrs Weinstein will probably be remembered for her work preserving Cairo’s Jewish heritage – 13 synagogues are listed monuments – and for encouraging the restoration of the Maimonides synagogue. Her latter years were overshadowed by accusations of fraud, from which she was recently cleared: (With thanks: Michelle)

CAIRO (AP) — The leader of Egypt’s dwindling
and aging Jewish community, known for her tireless work preserving
synagogues and a once-sprawling Jewish cemetery, died Saturday at the
age of 82.

Carmen Weinstein will be buried on Thursday in
the Bassatine cemetery she herself worked to save since 1978. It is the
only Jewish cemetery left in Cairo and is the largest in Egypt.

The transformation of Bassatine mirrors the
dramatic changes Egypt has undergone as its population skyrocketed and
poverty grew. Named in Arabic after its gardens, the cemetery is now a
slum of tightly-packed redbrick apartment buildings that house thousands
of poor Egyptians after waves of migration from villages in southern
Egypt.

Parts of Bassatine were turned into a garbage
dump, while another area was seized by antiquities’ officials. Weinstein
was able to preserve a small area as a Jewish cemetery.

Egypt’s once thriving Jewish community largely
left more than 60 years ago at a time of hostilities between the
country and Israel. Estimates say that since the creation of the state
of Israel in 1948, about 65,000 Jews left Egypt — most of them traveling
to Europe and the West. Some settled in Israel.

Their departure was fueled by rising
nationalist sentiment during the Arab-Israeli wars, and harassment and
some direct expulsions by then-President Gamal Abdel-Nasser, who seized
power shortly after a military coup ousted the country’s king.

Read article in full 

Bassatine News mourns the passing of Carmen Weinstein 

The Daily Forward  

AFP report

David Kirkpatrick in the New York Times 

More about Carmen Weinstein on Point of No Return

2 Comments

  • Baroukh dayan emet.

    She has done what she believed was the right thing. History will tell if it was so.

    Reply
  • We shall never know if Carmen played a part in the Egyptian authorities' refusal for not receiving a group of Egyptian Jews from visiting their.Bassatine and Shaar Hashamaim.Everything was ready, passports, hotel accomodations and plane tickets. Some most a lot of money, fortunately knowing Egyptians I had taken a very good insurance
    Maybe the future will tell us what it was all about.
    sultana

    Reply

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This website is dedicated to preserving the memory of the near-extinct Jewish communities, of the Middle East and North Africa, documenting the stories of the Jewish refugees and their current struggle for recognition and restitution.

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Jewish Refugees from Arab and Muslim Countries

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