Sunday, April 12, 2020

Why Wear Face Masks In Public? Here’s What The Research Shows and Passover Greetings From Ambassador Friedman! and The Cairo Genizah And Anwar Sadat By Saul Jay Singer and looking with the right eye and Melanie Phillips The story that Jews repeat on Passover is the secret of their survival and what does Judaism teach us about Anger?

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Yehuda Lave, Spiritual Advisor and Counselor

Yehuda Lave is an author, journalist, psychologist, rabbi, spiritual teacher, and coach, with degrees in business, psychology and Jewish Law. He works with people from all walks of life and helps them in their search for greater happiness, meaning, business advice on saving money,  and spiritual engagement. Now also a Blogger on the Times of Israel. Look for my column

Love Yehuda Lave

Because of the severe COVID-19 crisis, the load of horseradish for the Pesach Sedarim is stranded at Madrid airport.So, unfortunately, the chrain in Spain stays mainly on the plane.

What does Judaism teach us about anger?

So, does Judaism, in fact, teach us that we ought to express our anger? That it is better for us to get it out, rather than repress it?  Is Judaism "pro anger?" Not exactly.

In the "holiness code" of Leviticus 19, we are told, "you shall not hate your brother in your heart; you shall surely rebuke your fellow and not bear sin on his account."

The ancient sages said, "Those who are angry — it is the same as if they worshipped idols (Babylonian Talmud, Pesahim 66b)."

The best known Jewish stories about anger revolve around the rabbinic sage Hillel, who was famously patient.

One man bet another that he could provoke Hillel to lose his temper. On Friday, before the Sabbath, as Hillel was inside washing his hair, the man came to his home and called out to ask him a question. Hillel dried off, robed, and went outside to see who was calling him. The man asked him a silly question: "Why do the Babylonians have round heads?" Hillel answered, "You have asked a great question. Because they lack skillful midwives." When he had gone back to washing his hair, the man again interrupted his bath to ask him a different silly question. And a third time, he again waited just long enough until Hillel had gotten back in the bath before doing it yet again. Each time, Hillel calmly and patiently answered, finally sitting down and encouraging the man to ask whatever he needed.

When the man angrily told Hillel that his patience had caused him to lose a bet of 400 zuzes, Hillel replied, "Be careful of your moods. Hillel is worth it that you should lose 400 zuzes, and yet another 400 zuzes through him, yet Hillel shall not lose his temper (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 31a)."

Here, Hillel seems to be saying, "better you should lose 400 zuzes, or even twice that big amount,(if he won the bet he would have made twice the amount) than that I lose my temper (or you lose yours). Cultivating a patient disposition is much more important than making money."

Certainly, all human beings experience anger. We could say that our goal is to be like Hillel, possessing great patience. It is important to note that Hillel genuinely was not angry, which is very different from feeling anger but suppressing it (a bad idea). How did Hillel manage to avoid becoming angry? He realized he had the freedom to see the situation in various ways. He could be annoyed at the provocations (which, it turned out, were intentional provocations) or he could see the positive in the situation: how great it was that here was a man seeking knowledge.

So, like Hillel, we can choose to reframe our experiences as positively as possible (albeit, without being stupid and putting ourselves in danger). We can give every person the benefit of the doubt.

But also, when we do experience anger (and there are occasions when we are justified in doing so-very few let me add), we should, indeed, express it.  "You shall surely rebuke your fellow and not bear sin on his account."

Often, anger builds because we do not immediately address the problem. What might have been a very minor issue builds until someone explodes in rage and acts inappropriately.

Rather than come at the other person to tell her what she is doing wrong, we should present the problem we are experiencing. Maybe she is right, and I am wrong.

Using "I" statements is a good rule of thumb. "I feel" is better than "you should." "Excuse me, I can't hear the rabbi's sermon" is better than, "be quiet!" But "be quiet!" is certainly better than saying nothing, seething with anger, and then committing the sin of Lashon hora (gossip) by telling someone else at kiddush how inconsiderate so-and-so is for talking during the whole service and driving you crazy.

Almost all of us become angry much more frequently than is necessary. But even the most patient among us will nonetheless become angry sometimes.

People do unjust things, people make mistakes, sometimes people intentionally harm others and deserve our anger.

The best solution is to try to address the situation that makes us angry as quickly and as constructively as possible — and then let go of it. If you hold on to the coal of anger, the hand that gets burned will be your own.

Why Wear Face Masks In Public? Here's What The Research Shows

AP) With the coronavirus pandemic quickly spreading, U.S. health officials have changed their advice on face masks and now recommend people wear cloth masks in public areas where social distancing can be difficult, such as grocery stores.

But can these masks be effective?

President Donald Trump, in announcing the change in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guidance on April 3, stressed that the recommendation was voluntary and said he probably wouldn't follow it. Governors and mayors, however, have started encouraging the precautions to reduce the spread of the virus by people who might not know they are infected.

Some cities have gone as far as setting fines for failing to wear a mask. In Laredo, Texas, anyone over the age of five who walks into a store or takes public transit without their mouth and nose covered by a mask or bandana could now be fined up to $1,000.

These new measures are designed to "flatten the curve," or slow the spread of the coronavirus responsible for COVID-19.

Flattening the curve is another way of saying slowing the spread. The epidemic is lengthened, but we reduce the number of severe cases, causing less burden on public health systems. The Conversation/CC BY ND.

They're also a shift from the advice Americans have been hearing since the coronavirus pandemic began.

The World Health Organization and the CDC have repeatedly said that most people do not need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. In February, the U.S. surgeon general even urged the public to stop buying medical masks, warning that it would not help against the spread of the coronavirus. Part of the reason was to reserve N95 respirators and masks for healthcare workers like myself who are on the front lines and exposed to people with COVID-19.

Today, there is much more data and evidence on how COVID-19 is spread, and the prevalence of the disease itself is far more widespread than previously thought.

Sick, but no symptoms

As recently as early February, the World Health Organization stated that viral transmission from asymptomatic people was likely "rare," based on information available at the time. But a growing body of data now suggests that a significant number of infected people who don't have symptoms can still transmit the virus to others.

A CDC report issued March 23 on COVID-19 outbreaks on cruise ships offers a glimpse of the danger. It describes how the testing of passengers and crew on board the Diamond Princess found that nearly half – 46.5% – of the more than 700 people found to be infected with the new coronavirus had no symptoms at the time of testing.

The CDC explained that "a high proportion of asymptomatic infections could partially explain the high attack rate among cruise ship passengers and crew."

Dr. Harvey Fineberg, former president of the National Academy of Medicine and head of a new federal committee on infectious diseases, told CNN on April 2 that he will start wearing a mask in public,

especially at grocery stores, for this very reason. "While the current specific research is limited, the results of available studies are consistent with aerosolization of virus from normal breathing," he said.

It is these "silent carriers" – people infected with the virus but without fever, cough, or muscle aches – that proponents of universal mask wearing point to as proof that more could be done beyond social distancing to slow the virus's spread.

More effective than doing nothing

While research on the effectiveness of universal mask wearing for reducing respiratory droplet transmission is still thin, there is evidence to support it. (AP)

Passover Greetings From Ambassador Friedman!

Passover Greetings From Ambassador Friedman!

Looking at Life Through the Right Eye

Laibl's Blog


I strongly believe in design and purpose in everything - in all of creation.  I accept that everything occurs for a specific reason and is perfectly matched to insure a balance in the world – a spiritual homeostasis. Fritz Heider wrote in his The Psychology of Interpersonal Balance, that we humans also keep adjusting our minds and emotions towards the same end – inner balance.


Therefore, I approach our current global pandemic with the same worldview. It is purposeful. I am aware that doomsday-sayers rationalize that it's the planet-garden turning its wrath against its negligent gardeners. And others claiming we are like the denizens of Sodom - our perverse behaviours spawning Divine retribution.


That is not the approach my teachers taught me. When a parent deprives his/her naughty child of a cookie, does the parent hate the child or love the child? Likewise, my G-d, is a beneficent creator who loves His children and would never hurt them willfully. I anticipate the shrill cries of objection, raising the Shoah (holocaust), or a horrendous experience of watching dear ones suffering horribly in their last moments, and other gruesome images. I cannot answer them – I cannot speak for G-d.  To do that I would have to be G-d.


But I recall reading a transcript of a meeting between a Holocaust survivor and the Lubavitcher Rebbe, during which the survivor bitterly complaining where was G-d during that horrific ordeal, and questioning G-d's morality, even G-d's sanity.  The Rebbe responded to the broken person sobbing uncontrollably in front of him: "You are allowed to question G-d, nay, you must question G-d, because in questioning G-d, you are affirming G-d.


I don't know why G-d created a world that includes hurt and pain.  The question of six million Jewish martyrs is no stronger a question than the murder of any one person.  I don't even know why G-d created a world where a human being can step on an ant and kill it.


But I also hear the squealing laughter of my great grandchild.  I have been lucky enough to have seen many extraordinarily beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I feel the warmth and joy of a loving family and close friends. I have witnessed acts of kindness beyond belief and reason. I have therefore deliberately chosen to focus on the positive side of destiny's ledger.


Another survivor approached a Rebbe and said: I will never again respect religious people. In my 'largger' (concentration camp) there was a Jew who smuggled in a pair of Tefillin (religious phylacteries – a major mitzva - usually worn for prayer) and 'charged' each man who wanted to do that Mitzva by extorting an exorbitant 'sum' - his daily ration of one slice of bread. "Is that religion? Is that 'frumishkeit' (sincere religious practice)," he shouted? The Rebbe looked hard at the man and said: "And what about all those starving individuals who quite willingly sacrificed their piece of bread to put on the Tfillin?!"


The Frierdicker Rebbe would be fond of teaching the following life-lesson: "We have two eyes, a left and right.  The left side of creation means Gevurah (strictness, constraint), and the right side is that of Hessed (kindness and compassion).  Always look at people, and the world, through your right eye."


I choose to see the world through my right eye.

Melanie Phillips The story that Jews repeat on Passover is the secret of their survival

Jews don't need a crisis to tell them who or what they are. For Jews, the sense of who and what they are is what sustains them through such crises.

As Jews around the world celebrate the festival of Passover this week, the ironies are painful.

The festival celebrates the pivotal biblical event that followed Pharaoh's refusal to free his Hebrew slaves. The last and most terrible of the 10 plagues inflicted as punishment upon the Egyptians, the death of the firstborn in every family, passed over the houses of the Hebrews who then left Egypt for freedom and their destiny as a Jewish nation.

Today, of course, the plague of the coronavirus has not passed over the Jewish people—a proportion of whom are suffering and tragically dying alongside others of all faiths and none.

Too many families, both Jews and non-Jews over this Passover and Easter, will be mourning those whose lives were ended by the virus before their time, or who will be in a state of deepest anxiety over relatives in intensive-care units fighting for their lives. And nobody, including the British prime minister, Boris Johnson, is exempt from the extreme danger of this contagion.

Passover is the festival of freedom celebrating the deliverance of the Jewish people from slavery. Yet this time, Jews alongside everyone else are in various stages of lockdown or house arrest.

This is particularly so in Israel, where the parks and beaches—normally crowded with Passover holiday-makers—have been closed for weeks; where the government ordered a seder-night curfew to prevent anyone other than those residing in the same household from celebrating the seder together; and where whole towns and cities are being quarantined for days on end with no travel allowed beyond them.

Many will be having virtual seders through Zoom or FaceTime. Others will be together only with their immediate family. Still others will be completely alone.

Such separation or isolation is especially painful during this particular festival. It's not just that it's the quintessential annual family get-together.

The point of Passover, and the seder in particular, is the obligation—so important that it is repeated in the Torah by Moses no fewer than three times—to teach children the story of the deliverance and thus pass it down through the generations.

Yet throughout history, there have always been times when Jews had to celebrate Passover alone and in unimaginably dire conditions. There are unbearably moving accounts of it being celebrated by the inmates of Nazi extermination camps during World War II. Some had matzah and other necessary items somehow smuggled in from outside. Most simply refused their starvation ration of bread for a week.

What was so astonishing was the iron determination of those Jewish inmates to celebrate the deliverance of the Jewish people from a terrible evil while themselves being subjected to another, even more terrible evil.

By observing Passover in whatever way they could, those inmates affirmed what the Nazis sought to eradicate—the indelible sense of their own identity as Jews and their utterly unbreakable connection to the Jewish people.

The strength of that connection has ensured the survival of the Jewish people despite their unique history of persecution and oppression, a never-ending onslaught that would have felled any other group.

In a moving video for Passover, the former British chief rabbi, Lord Sacks, asks how a group of runaway slaves could have turned into the most tenacious nation in history and retained its sense of itself despite losing its power, its land and its home in ancient Israel.

The answer, he says, is found in the Passover Haggadah, the story of how the Jews became a free nation, which they repeat to themselves year in, year out.

As Sacks has observed, the Jews don't do history as much as memory. Jewish identity is based on collective memory; and that means it survives as the result of the story the people tell themselves about who they are, how they should live and their bond with those who came before them. If there is no such story to be told, a nation and its culture cannot survive.

Back in the 1980s and '90s, I watched aghast as the British intelligentsia steadily and willfully dismantled the nation's story and with it Britain's understanding of its national identity.

History teachers who had substituted ideology for evidence said Britain's past was all about empire and oppression. So the very idea of education as the transmission of a national story and culture down through the generations was deemed to be illegitimate because that national story and culture were racist and colonialist.

Something similar happened in America, whose story of its historic beginnings and the noble values embodied by its founding fathers has been all but submerged by the ideological slander that America was born in racially prejudiced sin.

In destroying that process of transmission, such ideologues destroyed the very meaning of education; and by refusing to tell the nation the story of its own past, they tried to destroy its identity.

There's now much discussion about what kind of society will emerge from the coronavirus crisis.  Rabbi Sacks optimistically speculates that this trauma will bring about a return of the sense of community and national identity that has been so badly undermined by our hyper-individualistic culture. The shared experience of suffering, he says, brings people together.

Maybe so. But in secular, post-religious Britain, the values producing compassion and community spirit come from biblical sources that have been contemptuously and overwhelmingly junked.

And in America, the many who still adhere to those biblical values are locked in battle against ideologies that have substituted power for truth and which are winning that culture war.

Jews don't need a crisis to tell them who or what they are. For Jews, the sense of who and what they are is what sustains them through such crises.

As a result, the Jewish people has continued to exist against all the odds. Despite suffering appalling losses, it has survived repeated pogroms, massacres and genocide; it has survived forced conversions at the point of a sword; it has survived the siren songs of assimilation.

And in embattled Israel, whose very existence—let alone its remarkable achievements—defies the very laws of nature, its people are forced to cross the Red Sea every single day.

What Judaism also provides is an ultimate freedom. For a strongly internalized and indelible sense of identity is the unbreachable defense against tyranny, slavery or imprisonment. It's inside your head and your heart, and nothing and nobody can take that away from you.

This year, Passover will be different from all other years. It may not feel like a holiday. For some, it may be overshadowed by sadness. But this plague also will pass, and the world will eventually move from lockdown into freedom.

And meanwhile, the Jewish people will keep faith with their story and will remember who they are. The virus may bring too many down; it may put a dampener on the holiday spirit; but it cannot destroy the story of the eternal people.

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for "The Times of London," her personal and political memoir, "Guardian Angel," has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, "The Legacy," in 2018. Her work can be found at:

The Cairo Genizah And Anwar Sadat By Saul Jay Singer

The Ben Ezra Synagogue in the Coptic section of Old Cairo, one of the only surviving remnants of the once glorious Jewish Egyptian community, stands on the place where, according to local legend, Pharaoh's daughter retrieved baby Moses from the bulrushes along the Nile River.

There are many other legends associated with the synagogue, including one that identifies it as the site where Jeremiah gathered the Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple when they were expelled from Jerusalem. The synagogue is most famous, however, for its genizah, an enormous storeroom containing material mostly from the 10th-13th centuries. Long-abandoned and discovered only in the 19th century, it contained hundreds of thousands of sacred and secular manuscripts in Hebrew, Aramaic, Judeo-Persian, and Judeo-Arabic.

Its contents included works of momentous theological significance, such as an original 2nd century copy of the Hebrew proverbs of Ben Sira; a 10th century vellum copy of Saadia Gaon's Torah translation into Arabic; handwritten documents by Yehuda Ha-Levi, R. Yosef Karo, and R. Isaac Luria; and the world's two oldest haggadot.

Original AP newspaper photo, June 24, 1992: "Workers outside the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Babylon, Old Cairo, Egypt. The Egyptian Antiquities Organization has been restoring Egypt's oldest synagogue for 10 years with money from the World Jewish Conference [sic]."Other documents ranged from the conventional and ordinary, such as the doodling of a child learning the Hebrew alphabet, miscellaneous business invoices, and mundane correspondence; to blasphemous manuscripts and works of magic and superstition; to marriage contracts and prenuptial provisions.

Fortunately for us, rather than burying their sheimos (documents and works containing G-d's name) and other materials, the Jews of the Ben Ezra community, for some unknown and inexplicable reason, stored the material in a literal hole in the wall where the arid Egyptian air facilitated their preservation for many centuries.

This unparalleled archive, a veritable treasure of historically important Judaica, constitutes a unique window into all aspects of Jewish life at the time, including the religious, commercial, political, social, and cultural life of the Jewish community; its internal connections and communications; and its relationships with broader Christian and Muslim societies.

After Alexander the Great's conquests, Jewish communities extended through the Greek world, and many Jews settled in coastal cities such as Alexandria as part of the Pharaohs' great colonization effort. By the dawn of the Roman era, Egypt had perhaps the largest Jewish population in the world, but the relatively decent relationship between Egyptian Jews and Rome ended with the 2nd century Bar Kochba revolts against Trajan and Hadrian in Eretz Yisrael after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Jewish life in Egypt improved dramatically, however, under Islamic rule; from the 10th through 12th centuries, a huge Islamic empire extended through the Middle East and North Africa, and some 90 percent of the world's Jews lived in its territory.

Although some documents from what became known as the Cairo Genizah contain gruesome details of Jewish persecutions through the centuries, including eyewitness accounts of the horrors of the First Crusades, other material upended centuries of prevailing historical theories regarding the mistreatment of Jews and the harsh restrictions placed upon them by their Islamic masters.

These records demonstrate that Islamic rulers promoted Jewish self-governance and that Jews were not only tolerated but, to a large extent, integrated into Egyptian social and commercial life. Cairo became the capitol of the Fatimid Caliphate, a dynasty that ruled from 909-1171, with a large Jewish population settling there.

Jews, though subject to Islamic law, were allowed to erect synagogues. The date of the founding of the Ben Ezra Synagogue cannot be determined, though records from the Genizah suggests that it may predate 882, when the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria sold a church and its grounds to Abraham ben Ezra, a Jewish native of Jerusalem. (The synagogue was not named for the purchaser but, rather, for Ezra the Scribe of Biblical antiquity.)

Nineteenth-century scholars assumed that this transaction was the origin of the Ben Ezra Synagogue, but contemporary researchers argue that this assumption is likely false given that the purchasers of the church were disciples of Babylonian Talmudical academies while the Ben Ezra congregation followed the rival Jerusalem academies.

In about 1012, when Fatimid caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah ordered the destruction of all Jewish (and Christian) places of worship, the original Ben Ezra Synagogue was torn down. Based upon studies of an incredible carved wooden Torah ark door known to belong to the synagogue (which is now jointly owned by the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore and the Yeshiva University Museum in New York and well worth seeing in person), it is estimated that the Ben Ezra was rebuilt in approximately 1030, when caliph Ali az-Zahir sanctioned reconstruction of synagogues and churches.

In 1168, the Islamic vizier Shawar ordered the burning of the city of Fustat, the original Arab-Muslim capital in Egypt and now part of Cairo, to prevent it from being conquered by the invading Christian Crusader army. This order included the deliberate burning of the Ben Ezra Synagogue.

The year 1168 in Fustat is also important for another reason: It is the year the Rambam (Maimonides), one of the greatest Jewish philosophers and commentators, established residence in Fustat, only a short walk from the Ben Ezra Synagogue, where he lived for 36 years until his death in 1204.

There is evidence that the Rambam lived in Fustat for the very purpose of gaining access to the vast assemblage of writings in the Genizah. However, though he served as Nagid, or leader, of the Egyptian community, as a follower of the Babylonian Talmud he was not a member of the Ben Ezra synagogue. Nonetheless, some of the most important documents found in the Genizah include portions of his Mishneh Torah, a draft of Moreh Nevuchim (Guide to the Perplexed), correspondence in his own handwriting, and missives discussing his life and work, all of which constitutes the primary source for much of what we know about him today.

Because Jews were generally secure under Egyptian rulers during the Middle ages, Cairo became one of the biggest centers of Jewish life and a leading storehouse for Jewish knowledge, much of which found its way to the Cairo Genizah.

After accumulating documents for five centuries, the Genizah documents inexplicably became forgotten during the Ottoman period until the late 19th century, when Romanian Rabbi Jacob Saphir (1822-85) became the first person in centuries to appreciate the significance of the Genizah, which he described in an 1874 book.

During the rebuilding of the synagogue (1889-92), an enormous pile of Genizah documents were left outside in the open, during which time Egyptologist Count Riamo d'Hulst studied some of them. In December 1896, Solomon Schechter – a scholar, educator, Conservative theologian, and president of the Jewish Theological Society of America – undertook the first in-depth, contemporary academic investigation of the Genizah documents before arranging to have them sent to various university libraries, where they are still studied today.

Prior to 1948, Egypt was home to some 75,000 Jews, but the Egyptian government expelled most of them in the aftermath of Israel's birth so that, at most, 100 mostly elderly Jews remain in Egypt today and less than a minyan reside in Cairo. Although the Ben Ezra Synagogue no longer functions as a congregation, it is a Historic Cairo UNESCO World Heritage Site and remains the most visited Jewish site in Egypt – although one could argue that the pyramids, which we all know were built by Jewish slave labor, are actually Egypt's top Jewish site.

Surprisingly, one person who was very much concerned about the preservation of the Ben Ezra Synagogue was Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. Sadat (1918-81), who succeeded President Gamal Abdel Nasser upon his death in 1970, is celebrated for being the first Arab leader to visit Israel (November 1977); for going on to sign the Camp David Accords (1978); and for making peace with Israel, which led to both his being awarded the 1978 Nobel Peace Prize and his assassination by radical Islamists.

In this October 11, 1980 correspondence written from Cairo on his presidential letterhead a year before his murder, Sadat writes about the development of what he calls "the Compound of Religions in Sinai," which is actually the Cairo Multi-Religious Compound containing the holy sites of all three Abrahamic religions, including the Coptic Christian Hanging Church, which dates from the third century; Amr Ibn Al'As Mosque, the first mosque in Egypt; and the Ben Ezra Synagogue:

Sadat letter

It is with a deep sense of recognition that I have received your kind message together with the (3) dollar cheque you were good enough to send me as a contribution on your part to establishing the Compound of Religions in Sinai.

It delights me very much, on this occasion, to hail your humanitarian feelings and noble sentiments as well as your highly appreciated keenness to support this project which will help deepening the correct understanding of the Heavenly Messages and serving the principles of justice, fraternity and peace.

Thanking you once again for that kind gesture on your part, I wish you the best of health, happiness and success.

The structural integrity of what is known as Historic Cairo, the site of the Multi-Religious Compound and the Ben Ezra Synagogue, has historically faced many challenges – some natural, such as earthquakes and salty groundwater seepage, and some preventable, including environmental pollution, high population density and, in particular, a history of poor maintenance and governmental neglect.

Some substantive conservation efforts were undertaken in the late 19th century, but the 1952 Egyptian revolution slowed such efforts to a virtual halt. In the wake of the Six-Day War (1967), the Ben Ezra Synagogue was abandoned but, ironically, it was this very abandonment that led to an increased awareness of the importance of preserving Egypt's heritage, which became even more pronounced when foreign embassies moved into the area and rejuvenated life there.

Since the 1960s, the synagogue had been in structural decline due to, among other things, foundational damage caused by rainwater seepage, groundwater, and soluble salts. It was in this environment, particularly after Historic Cairo was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, that Egypt undertook to establish and sustain the Compound of Religions. As our letter demonstrates, this endeavor was strongly supported by President Sadat; it is not often that a head of state writes a personal note to thank a donor for a three-dollar contribution!

It was Sadat's initiative that led to the first serious discussions about restoring the Ben Ezra Synagogue. After the Camp David Peace Accords were signed in September 1978, a meeting between Philip Klutznick, president of the World Jewish Congress (and later President Carter's Secretary of Commerce) and the Egyptian Minister of Foreign Affairs led to an agreement pursuant to which the WJC undertook to finance a project to further the spirit of Camp David, which became a plan to repair and renovate the Ben Ezra Synagogue.

Years after the commencement of the restoration effort, the synagogue held a reopening ceremony in March 2010 that was attended by Israel's Ambassador to Egypt. However, because the celebration included a traditional "L'Chaim" – i.e., the drinking of alcohol – Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities canceled the synagogue's official unveiling, which was scheduled to take place a week later.

This year, the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi announced that it would allocate $71 million to restore Jewish holy sites in Egypt, but, after a mass public furor, the Egyptian Antiquities Authority qualified its statement, declaring that the money would be spent on restoring the three holy sites in the Multi-Religious Compound of Historic Cairo. Nonetheless, much of the Egyptian public, focusing on the Ben Ezra Synagogue, protested that the project should be paid for by wealthy foreign Jews rather than penurious Egyptians.

See you tomorrow bli neder-Happy Passover We want Mosiach now

Love Yehuda Lave

Rabbi Yehuda Lave

PO Box 7335, Rehavia Jerusalem 9107202


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