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Jews in Egypt: The Story Of a Dying Community

The passing of Carmen Weinstein, leader of the Egyptian Jewish community, symbolizes the near-end of the community in the land of the Nile, writes Jacky Hugi.
Diplomats from the United States and Israel are seen with other mourners as they bury veteran Jewish leader Carmen Weinstein, at the Bassatine Cemetery, Cairo's only active Jewish burial site, in Cairo, April 18, 2013. Weinstein, 82, died last Saturday at her home in Cairo where she was known over the past two decades for leading efforts to preserve the overwhelmingly Muslim country's Jewish heritage. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih  (EGYPT - Tags: RELIGION POLITICS OBITUARY) - RTXYQYI

Twenty elderly women convened an urgent, extraordinary meeting. These were the members of the Jewish community in Cairo, and on the agenda was the election of a new president for the community and burial arrangements for her predecessor.

Former President Carmen Weinstein had passed away two whole days earlier on April 13; she had been a strong woman, childless, aged 82. It is no coincidence that there were no men at the meeting. The handful of Jewish community members includes only women, at least as far as is known. The assembled members  elected Magda Haroun, daughter of communist and intellectual Chehata Haroun. From that moment, Magda embarked on a not-very-long journey; the journey of witnessing the end of Jewish life in the land of the Nile.

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