Ben Ezra Synagogue

  


 Ben Ezra Synagogue


Ben Ezra Synagogue

  • Ben Ezra Synagogue considered to be one of the most famous, and oldest synagogue in the whole world, not only in Egypt.
  • The land of Egypt is home of 13 Jewish temples, most of which are treated as antiquities, and warns of approaching or demolishing it. 

  • Hundreds of millions of pounds are spent on it for its restoration, and renewal, to be a witness to Egypt's ability to preserve its civilization, and cultural heritage.

Ben Ezra Synagogue


  • It was named the temple of Ibn Ezra, attributed to the writer Ezra, one of the evacuated rabbis.

Ben Ezra synagogue history

  • It dates back between the sixth and ninth century AD.

  • The temple has been used throughout history by most of the Jewish sects in Egypt.

  • The Ben Ezra temple was originally a church, called the Church of Shamaaen.

  • But the Orthodox Church sold it in 882 AD to the Jewish community, When it passed through financial hardship as a result of the increase in taxes imposed on Christians and Muslims by Sultan Ahmed bin Tulun.

  • At the beginning, the Coptic Pope refused to sell the church, so the Jews told him, "Sell us the right to use it for a period of one hundred years".
  • The Patriarch agreed in that, so they wrote a document between them.
  • Its summary: The Jews have the right to use this church for a period of one hundred years, and they have to return it to the Copts after that, and its use starts from today.  

  • When a hundred years passed, the Copts asked for the church to be returned to them.

  • But the answer surprised the Copts was that not a hundred years passed since the church was sold, because the word today in the contract is not fixed by a date.

  • It is worth to know that they sold the use of it, for an amount of 20 thousand dinars, it was a very large sum at the time, Jews paid it due to the great importance, and sanctity of that spot for the Jews.


The Importance of the Location 

  • According to the Jewish books, the spot on which the temple was built in the place of St. Michael's Church is a place that the Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) used to pray, to lift the plague that afflicted the Egyptians.
  • The temple contains the remains of the Prophet "Armia"

The Description


  • The temple consists of two floors, like other synagogues, and Jewish assemblies.

The First Floor 


  • It was used for male worshipers (The direction of prayer in the temple towards Jerusalem).

Ben Ezra Synagogue


  • The design of the first floor was divided into three sections, the largest of which is the middle one, which is surmounted by the opening for lighting and ventilation, in the middle is the preaching platform, and around it are the seats of the worshipers.

  • The decorations that decorate its walls represent units of Jewish art, which are scenes inspired by the Torah, and Islamic decorative elements such as arabesques.
Ben Ezra Synagogue

  • candlestick represents the days of the week in the Jewish creed, it was divided into 3 candles on the right and the same on the left, and in the middle Star of David which represents Saturday (holiday for the Jews).

  • The temple houses a wonderful Islamic masterpiece.

  • In the middle of the synagogue there is architectural design marble in the form of an open book, bearing the names of the four Rightly Guided Caliphs (They are Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq, Omar bin Al-Khattab, Othman bin Affan and Ali Ibn Abi Talib).
  • In addition to another copper chandelier hanging from the ceiling in a conical shape, and bears the name of the Mamluk Sultan Qalawun.

  • The two chandeliers were given by the Mamluk Sultan Qalawun, who ruled Egypt during the period from (678 - 689 AH) corresponding to (1280 - 1290 AD), which confirms Egypt's embrace throughout its history of all religions.

  • The Bima, which is a Jewish pulpit, is a set of stairs, the last of which looks like a small balcony on which the rabbi who gives lessons stands


The Upper Floor


Ben Ezra Synagogue

  • It was reserved for ladies prayer, and listening to sermons.

  • The staircase to go up the second floor are outside the building.

The Geniza Room 


Ben Ezra Synagogue


  • What distinguishes the second floor is the Geniza room that contributed to the fame of this temple, it is a closed room on all sides except the top.

  • Books, and papers were stored inside it for a long time until it was discovered and transferred its contents in 1896 AD to the University of Cambridge, the United Kingdom.

  • The Geniza contained more than 200,000 documents, the oldest of which dates back to the 11th century AD. 
  • The word Geniza has Persian origin, It indicates the hidden sciences.


The Well of Wishes 


  • Inside the temple there is a well in which the money is thrown in order to achieve wishes, and this well is still used by the Jewish community until now.

  • It is the place were Jews believe that Moses's mother hid him, while he was an infant, for fear of the oppression of Pharaoh.


The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities

  • The Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications, has launched virtual visits to archaeological sites to educate, and entertain visitors during their stay at home, to prevent and limit the spread of the new Corona virus, under the slogans:

 #StayHome

 #StaySafe

 #ExperienceEgyptFromHome

https://my.matterport.com/show/?m=9sXzU9yY1gw&mls=1

Ben Ezra Synagogue Hours

  • It’s  open in 9 AM, and closed in 4 PM.

Ben Ezra Synagogue Entrance Fee

  • It’s free.

References

  • https://egymonuments.gov.eg/en/news/a-virtual-tour-through-the-ben-ezra-synagogue/
  •  http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContent/9/44/366807/Heritage/Museums/Ben-Ezra-synagogue-is-today%E2%80%99s-virtual-tour-by-the-.aspx
  • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses

 


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