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Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo

Photo © Templar1307. View all images in our Ben Ezra Synagogue Photo Gallery.
Photo © Roba Al-Assi.

The Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo is located behind the Hanging Church and was once a church itself.

The Ben Ezra Synagogue was originally a Christian church, which the Coptic Christians of Cairo had to sell to the Jews in 882 AD in order to pay the annual taxes imposed by the Muslim rulers of the time. The church was purchased by Abraham Ben Ezra, who came from Jerusalem during the reign of Ahmed Ibn Tulun, for 20,000 dinars.

The synagogue was a place of pilgrimage for North African Jews and the site of major festival celebrations. The famous medieval rabbi Moses Maimonides worshipped at Ben Ezra synagogue when he lived in Cairo.

Numerous restorations and renovations were made over the centuries, and the present building dates from 1892. It is a faithful reconstruction of the original, which had collapsed. During the reconstruction, a medieval Geniza (a hiding place for sacred books and worn-out Torah scrolls) was discovered, revealing thousands of original documents from the Middle Ages.

What to See

The Synagogue of Ben Ezra has a basilica-style plan and two floors, the lower one for men and the upper one for women.

The main floor is divided into three parts by steel bars, and in the center is an octagonal marble bima (platform for Torah reading). The synagogue is decorated with geometric and floral patterns in the Turkish style.

Today Ben Ezra Synagogue is a historical monument and the most-visited Jewish site in Cairo. Be prepared to pass through security in order to enter the synagogue.

Quick Facts on Ben Ezra Synagogue

Site Information
Names:Ben Ezra Synagogue; Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo
City:Cairo
Country:Egypt
Categories:Synagogues
Faiths:Judaism
Visitor and Contact Information
Location:Cairo, Egypt
Coordinates:30.005318° N, 31.229861° E  (view on Google Maps)
Lodging:View hotels near this location
Note: This information was accurate when first published and we do our best to keep it updated, but details such as opening hours can change without notice. To avoid disappointment, please check with the site directly before making a special trip.

Map of Ben Ezra Synagogue

Below is a location map and aerial view of Ben Ezra Synagogue. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.

References

  1. The Synagogue of Ben Ezra - Ask Aladdin
  2. The Ben Ezra Synagogue - Database of Jewish Communities

More Information

Article Info

Title:Ben Ezra Synagogue, Cairo
Author:Holly Hayes
Last updated:07/06/2009
Permalink:www.sacred-destinations.com/egypt/cairo-ben-ezra-synagogue/egypt/cairo-ben-ezra-synagogue
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