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Egypt registers its Jewish artifacts

Egyptian authorities have begun a process to register and protect Jewish cemeteries and synagogues after decades of neglecting them.
An Egyptian worker carries out restoration work at Moses Maimonides Temple, the first Jewish temple to be built in Egypt during the 19th Century, in Cairo August 20, 2009, Dr. Zahi Hawas, the Secretary General of the Higher Antiquities Authority inspected the restoration project of the temple on Thursday, Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, or the acronym the Rambam, was born in Cordoba, Spain on March 30, 1135, and died in Egypt on December 13, 1204 and was a doctor of the al-Sultan Sal
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CAIRO — Saeed Helmy, head of the Islamic, Coptic and Jewish Monuments Department at the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities, told Al-Monitor that three Jewish cemeteries had been registered with the ministry on April 26 in the areas of al-Shatby 1, al-Shabty 2 and Azarita, in Alexandria governorate. Speaking by phone to Al-Monitor on May 4, Helmy also said that a synagogue at one of the cemeteries had been documented and registered, which would make it an official historical site under the Antiquities Protection Law no. 117 of 1983 and require the ministry to assume responsibility for it.

The registrations are the first such moves in regard to Jewish heritage sites following decades of neglect. After the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, more than half of Egypt's approximately 80,000 Jews left for Israel. Today, only six are thought to remain. According to the Ministry of Antiquities, only 11 synagogues are still intact, 10 in Cairo and one in Alexandria, and they contain thousands of books on the Jewish community in Egypt as well as birth and marriage registers.

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