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Synagogue Ben Ezra, Cairo

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Religious Site · Hidden Gem · Historic Site
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The oldest remaining synagogue in Cairo, Synagogue Ben Ezra stands as the place where thousands of original medieval scrolls in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Judeo-Arabic language were discovered. According to legend, the synagogue sits on the site where Pharaoh's daughter found the ark with baby Moses. Other sources say the synagogue was originally a Coptic church which was sold to the Jews in 882 because of the high taxes Christians had to pay at the time to the Muslim rulers. The geniza (store room with manuscripts) was discovered in the 1890s during the reconstruction of the original building. Plan my trip to Cairo with suggested itineraries provided by Inspirock.
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Synagogue Ben Ezra reviews

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Google
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TripAdvisor
  • Definitely worth a stop when visiting this area of Cairo. This site has an interesting mix of history, as it was originally a church and then converted about a century ago. No pictures allowed inside. 
    Definitely worth a stop when visiting this area of Cairo. This site has an interesting mix of history, as it was originally a church and then converted about a century ago. No pictures allowed inside.  more »
  • This site is also known as the El-Geniza Synagogue and is located in Coptic Cairo so you might want to explore that history as well while you are in the vicinity. Local legend says that it is... 
    This site is also known as the El-Geniza Synagogue and is located in Coptic Cairo so you might want to explore that history as well while you are in the vicinity. Local legend says that it is...  more »
  • I was surprised to find a synagogue in Coptic Cairo and even more surprised to learn it is the oldest synagogue in Egypt. The structure dates to a 4th century Christian church. A Jewish Rabbi, Ben... 
    I was surprised to find a synagogue in Coptic Cairo and even more surprised to learn it is the oldest synagogue in Egypt. The structure dates to a 4th century Christian church. A Jewish Rabbi, Ben...  more »
Google
  • So good to have this in the Coptic Christian area. It was great to see. Pushy for donations. Roped off sections ruin the experience a bit. However, a good place to pray. No pictures or video allowed.
  • Ben Ezra Synagogue is a synagogue that more of a tourist attraction in Coptic Cairo more than a place of worship due to the few Jews still in Egypt. The building doesn’t look like much, but the inside has been attractively restored and certainly looks pretty. Pity no photos are allowed though.
  • The Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo is located behind the Hanging Church and was once a church itself. Ben Ezra is quite easily accessible from anywhere in Cairo, with the Metro being the most convenient Mar Girgis Station. The Ben Ezra Synagogue was originally a Christian church, which the Coptic Christians of Cairo had to sell to the Jews in 882 A.D in order to pay the annual taxes imposed by the Muslim rulers of the time. The church was purchased by Abraham Ben Ezra, who came from Jerusalem during the reign of Ahmed Ibn Tulun, for 20,000 dinars. The synagogue was a place of pilgrimage for North African Jews and the site of major festival celebrations. The famous medieval rabbi Moses Maimonides worshipped at Ben Ezra synagogue when he lived in Cairo. Numerous restorations and renovations were made over the centuries, and the present building dates from 1892. It is a faithful reconstruction of the original, which had collapsed. During the reconstruction, a medieval Geniza (a hiding place for sacred books and worn-out Torah scrolls) was discovered, revealing thousands of original documents from the Middle Ages. The Synagogue of Ben Ezra has a basilica-style plan and two floors, the lower one for men and the upper one for women. The main floor is divided into three parts by steel bars, and in the center is an octagonal marble bima (platform for Torah reading). The synagogue is decorated with geometric and floral patterns in the Turkish style. Tradition marks this as the spot where the prophet Jeremiah gathered the Jews in the 6th century after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Jerusalem temple. The adjacent spring behind the building (not accessible now but can be seen from the outside through the grill) is supposed to mark the place where the pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the reeds, and also where Mary drew water to wash Jesus. Today Ben Ezra Synagogue is a historical monument and the most-visited Jewish site in Cairo. Be prepared to pass through security in order to enter the synagogue.
  • The Ben Ezra Synagogue is the most beautiful and oldest Synagogue in Cairo / Egypt . There is so much beautiful history about this place back to Mosses and Rambam time . Another important thing about the BenEzra that the Cairo Genizah was discovered there in the 2nd floor, sadly it's all taken to the UK . Over all its an amazing place worth visiting .
  • Disappointed. The place have been shut for 10 months now and somehow marked as open on the Google site. How difficult is it to change it ? But the rest of the Coptic area is fantastic.

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