BDE: One Of The Last Jews In Egypt Passes Away

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Yosef Ben-Gaon, z'l, (L.) with David Govrin (R), then Israeli ambassador to Egypt, in the Eliyahu HaNavi shul in 2016. (Kan News screenshot)

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Reb Yosef Ben-Gaon, z’l, the head of the tiny Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt passed away recently at the age of 69, Kan News reported.

Ben-Gaon davened at the Eliyahu Hanavi shul which was renovated in recent years by the Egyptian government.

The magnificent Eliyahu Hanavi shul was closed in 2016 after the roof in the women’s section collapsed. In 2017, the Egyptian Antiquities Authority Ministry approved a $4 million renovation plan which was completed in 2020. It now has enough seats for 700 mispallelim, which of course remain empty, and is considered one of the largest shuls in the Middle East.

People attend the opening of Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria, Egypt, Friday, Jan. 10, 2020, three years after the Egyptian government started the renovations of the synagogue originally built in 1354. (AP Photo/Hamada Elrasam)

The Eliyahu Hanvai shul was built in the 19th century on top of the original edifice built in 1354, which sustained significant damage during Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt in 1798.

There were a total of about 80,000 Jews in Egypt until 1948, with about 30,000-40,000 Jews living in Alexandria and the rest in Cairo. Currently, it’s estimated that there are less than 20 Jews in all of Egypt.

(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)