Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Egypt Restores Synagogues, Secretly

Word leaks thanks to changed political calculus

Print Email
Restoration work at the Cairo synagogue where Moses Maimonides once worked and studied.(

When Egypt’s antiquities department two weeks ago announced plans to restore a medieval synagogue, many immediately smelled a ploy: Farouk Hosny, the country’s minister of culture—who last year made an incendiary comment about burning Israeli books—is angling for the position of Unesco director general, and so Egypt, conspiracy theorist argued, was trying to make nice with the Jews. Yesterday, though, the New York Times told a more nuanced version of the story. Egypt has “slowly, quietly been working to restore its synagogues for several years,” the paper reported, but has been keeping the efforts secret because of widespread anti-Semitism among the populace. “This was such a reverse of what we experienced in Eastern Europe, where governments don’t do much but want to present the picture they are doing things,” said an American Jewish Committee director quoted in the article. “In Egypt they were doing things but, ‘Shhh, don’t let anybody know!’” Now that the government’s promoting Hosny for the Unesco job, though, looking good to international observers has trumped the cause of not infuriating its own citizens.

Private Motive for Egypt’s Public Embrace of a Jewish Past

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Egypt Restores Synagogues, Secretly

Word leaks thanks to changed political calculus

More on Tablet:

A Grandfather’s Hidden Love Letters From Nazi Germany Reveal a Buried Past

By Vox Tablet — Reporter Sarah Wildman’s grandfather escaped Vienna in 1938. Long after he died, she discovered the life—and lover—he left behind.