Egypt registers 13 Jewish artefacts as protected antiquities

The restoration of the Nebi Daniel synagogue in Alexandria has been greeted with rejoicing and gratitude. But this is the price Jews are paying for the preservation of their heritage: according to this article in Egypt Independent, the Egyptian government has declared ‘protected’ 13 artefacts. This means that it is starting to nationalise  moveable communal property that might

 have been restored to its Jewish owners.  (With thanks: JIMENA)

A Torah scroll in the Nebi Daniel synagogue (Photo: Nebi Daniel Association)

The Supreme Council of Antiquities in Egypt has approved registering 13 artifacts, including Torah scrolls, candlesticks and lanterns, belonging to synagogues in Alexandria and across Egypt’s governorates, in preparation for listing them under the Antiquities Protection Law.

Mohamed Mahran, head of the Central Department of Jewish Antiquities at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, said that the move to approve registering the pieces as antiquities represents the first of its kind.

In a conversation with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Mahran said that specialized scientific and technical committees had submitted a list of 500 pieces from 13 different Egyptian synagogues, including the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria.

The Permanent Committee for Antiquities then approved the selection of 13 artifacts from the list.

The Supreme Council of Antiquities approved the selected artifacts in accordance with established regulations, Mahran noted, adding that the pieces handpicked for antiquity status under the Antiquities Protection Law are over 100 years old and have a specific history.

The Council recommended that the remaining 487 pieces be preserved in preparation for further study and scientific research. The pieces came from a group of around 6,000 total artifacts examined by scientific and technical committees, which included academic professors specializing in archaeology and experts from the Ministry of Antiquities.

Read article in full

Arab states are claiming the heritage of their expelled Jews


  • I support Jewish communities' attempts to retrieve their artifacts, especially when the regimes in question have a history of antisemitism and have no interest in protecting such artifacts and making them accessible to the Jewish communities in question.

    At the same time, I have at least a slight degree of sympathy for Egypt, so many of whose artifacts have been pillaged and smuggled to collectors abroad (and this is still happening). The Egyptians' desire to lock down every movable artifact (not just Jewish ones) is, at least in part, a knee-jerk reaction to the continuing pillaging of ancient Egyptian antiquities.

    At the same time, the regime is beginning to restore Jewish sites, which is positive.

    The main problems are:

    1. The antisemitism of Egyptians generally and the regime in particular, which makes it less likely that moderate policies can be counted on.

    2. The regime's failure to allow the Egyptian Jewish diaspora access to their communities artifacts

    3. The regime's broad failure to restore Jewish sites and protect artifacts in the past

    Unlike people in Morocco and Tunisia, Egyptians do not see Egypt as a country with a Jewish diaspora, and the regime does not see that diaspora as a resource or attempt to build a lasting relationship with that community. If it did so, it could probably mitigate all 3 issues above. As things are today, Egypt's relationship with its expelled Jews seems to be deeply defensive and very hostile.


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