Egypt wins worldwide award for restoring historic synagogue

Egypt continues to reap the fruits of its tasks to revive synagogues and Jewish monuments throughout the nation.

According to a Facebook submit printed Oct. 1 by the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, the challenge to revive the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria gained the award for the perfect worldwide challenge within the class of restoration and rehabilitation tasks, within the Engineering News-Record’s Global Best Projects Competition 2021, by which 21 international locations participated in 18 totally different fields within the building trade.

The winners had been introduced on the ENR web site Sept. 27. 

Egypt’s Youm7 web site printed an article Sept. 30, saying that “the award is particularly important because ENR specializes in covering news and making professional analyzes on construction projects worldwide, which made it one of the most trusted magazines in the construction industry. ENR annually compiles a ranking of the largest contractors, engineering firms and major construction projects in the United States and around the world.”

It continued, “Egypt is the only country in the competition that won four awards out of 30 winning projects, and the most prominent Egyptian award was for the best international project in the category of restoration and rehabilitation projects for the project of restoring the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria.”

On Jan. 11, 2020, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities inaugurated the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue after three years of restoration works. During the ceremony, Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Egyptian Antiquities Mustafa Waziri stated, “Inaugurating the restored synagogue is a clear message to the world that the land of Egypt embraces all the different monotheistic religions.”

Egyptian Jews had celebrated the opening of the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue. The head of the Jewish Community in Egypt, Magda Haroun, advised the press again then that she hoped “the synagogue would serve as a tourist attraction and contribute to changing the popular cultural opinion of the Egyptians about Jews, especially Egyptian Jews.”

One of the oldest members of the Jewish group in Egypt, Albert Arie — who has since died — had said on Jan. 10, 2020, that the opening of the Jewish synagogue in Alexandria provides him pleasure, and it’s such occasions that present the actual Egypt.

“This temple in Alexandria had been part of the Egyptian heritage before it became a Jewish synagogue,” Arie stated, noting, “I wish the synagogue would be a monument for all Egyptians, not only Jews.”

In February, Mohamed Metwally, common supervisor of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish antiquities division in Alexandria, stated, “The Ministry of Antiquities has succeeded in restoring the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue at a cost of 68 million Egyptian pounds [$4.3 million].”

He famous, “The temple is built as a basilica with 28 huge columns and is divided into five galleries. The structure of the temple is made out of marble, with a sacred wheel in the middle, on which inscriptions from the Ten Commandments of the Prophet Moses are written.”

Metwally continued, “During the restoration, the foundations of the walls and archaeological evidence of the ancient temple were discovered.”

The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria is without doubt one of the oldest Jewish temples within the Middle East and the biggest in Egypt. It is constructed on a complete space of 4,200 sq. meters (1 acre) and incorporates a library with books courting again to the 15th century.

It was first established in 1354 by the Jewish group in Egypt, and in 1800, Napoleon Bonaparte demolished the temple as a result of the Jews of Alexandria refused to pay their share of taxes.

The Jewish group in Alexandria later accomplished the building of the temple in 1850, but it surely suffered partial collapse over time because of neglect, and so it was briefly closed.

Egypt is conscious of the significance of restoring Jewish monuments in stimulating tourism, which prompted Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2018 to allocate $71 million to revive Jewish archaeological websites in Egypt along with Islamic and Christian monuments.

There are at the moment over 25 synagogues in Egypt, distributed between Cairo, Alexandria and Beheira, however solely 11 temples registered with the Ministry of Antiquities and the Ministry of Culture.

The Israeli Embassy in Cairo issued a assertion 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 stated throughout a press convention on 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 on the Faculty of Archaeology at Cairo University, advised 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 stated, “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.”

He identified that the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is an architectural masterpiece that highlighted Egypt’s keenness on restoring antiquities and respecting all monotheistic religions.

“The state considers Jewish antiquities an integral part of Egyptian history, and these monuments reflect important periods experienced by Egyptians of various religions, particularly Egyptian Jews,” Abdel Rahim concluded.


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