Alexandria restoration reveals earlier synagogue

With thanks: Heritage of the Jews of Egypt

Top: scaffolding covering the exterior. Bottom: the brass menorot have been polished up to their original shine

Restoration work on the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue (Nebi Daniel) in Alexandria has revealed the remains of an older synagogue beneath the 19th century structure. Following the partial collapse of the ladies’ gallery ceiling, The  Egyptian government pledged to spend state funds to restore the Italianate synagogue, reputed to be the largest in the Middle East. In 2018, the synagogue was added to the World Monuments Fund: this body is headquartered in New York and collects private donations for the preservation of endangered sites.

As the photos indicate, the Alexandria synagogue is undergoing  total restoration. The team of experts working on the site have replaced all the  beams, set up individual workshops for cleaning and replacing the stained glass and mouldings, recasting pillars and replacing wood frames.

 They have protected the floors from rising damp and have cleaned each brick individually to scrape all the acid gnawing at them. They have numbered the tiles so each is put back in its proper place.  They have cleaned all the benches and seats. All the bronze candelabras and menorot seem to have been polished up to their original shine.

They have dug up the whole floor and found the remains of an older synagogue which will be visible through a glass floor. Work is expected to be finished in the last quarter of 2019.

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