Egypt is congratulating itself on ‘reaping the benefits’ of having spent $4 million on restoring the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria: according to the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the project has won the award for the best international project in the category of restoration and rehabilitation projects in the Engineering News-Record’s Global Best Projects Competition 2021, reports Al-Monitor. The award will help promote tourism, say officials. Excluded from the official inauguration, Egyptian Jews organised their own ceremony in February 2020. It was the first, and will probably the last, time that the synagogue will echo to the sound of Jewish prayer. (With thanks: Viviane)
Egypt is aware of the importance of restoring Jewish monuments in stimulating tourism, which prompted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2018 to allocate $71 million to restore Jewish archaeological sites in Egypt in addition to Islamic and Christian monuments.
There are currently over 25 synagogues in Egypt, distributed between Cairo, Alexandria and Beheira, but only 11 temples registered with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Ministry of Culture.
The Israeli Embassy in Cairo issued a statement in December 2018 praising “the Egyptian government’s initiative to restore various monuments, including Jewish ones, in order to preserve the ancient Egyptian history, because Egypt is the center of civilization.”
On Oct. 7, Egyptian Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Anani said during a press conference at the Egyptian Embassy in Paris, “The Egyptian state is keen to preserve the unique Egyptian civilizational and cultural heritage for future generations, as it implements projects for the restoration and maintenance of monuments and the development of museums throughout the country. A number of restoration projects have been a success, most notably the project to restore the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria.”
Gamal Abdel Rahim, professor of Islamic, Christian and Jewish Archaeology at the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, told Al-Monitor, “The award won by the restoration project of the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is an international testament to the Egyptians’ success in restoring monuments.”
He said, “The award will certainly contribute to reviving tourism, as the Ministry of Antiquities uses this award in its plan to promote and publicize it around the world to introduce Egypt’s most prominent antiquities.”