There are multiple reasons behind the departure of the Jews from Egypt. Some left Egypt and fought against its government and people. Others refused to leave Egypt like Magda Haroun’s father and Laila Murad and her brother Munir. Laila insisted on staying in Egypt. She died and was buried in Egypt in 1995.
On Thursday, April 15, the leftist figure Albert Arie, one of the last Jews in Egypt who refused to leave, passed away at age of 90.
He has always been known to be a living memory of the Egyptian left movement, the development of the artistic and literary history of Egypt.
He was the oldest of the tiny Jewish community. About seven more Jewish Egyptians now live in Cairo and Alexandria. In the 1950s, about 80,000 Jews lived in Egypt.
Arie was born in central Cairo in June 1930 and received education in Egyptian schools. He was active in the Egyptian communist movement since the forties of the last century, and was imprisoned in 1953 for 11 years.
He preserved his Egyptian identity and Arabism, contributed to the opposition to Zionism and refused to immigrate to Israel, like the other two Jewish symbols Shehata Haroun and the lawyer Youssef Darwish.
He was born to a Turkish father who came with his brother to Egypt at the beginning of the twentieth century to work as an accountant in a shop in Al-Musky, and his mother was the daughter of a Russian worker who came to Egypt at the end of the nineteenth century.
In earlier press interviews, Arie admitted that the Egyptian Jews did not leave the country because of Zionism, but rather because of persecution and treatment by the authorities, noting that the Egyptian drama is a distortion of history.
Restoration of synagogues is an excellent step, but it is also important for us to correct the history of the Jews of Egypt who loved this country.
In last January, a major project to renovate the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in the coastal city of Alexandria was accomplished. The official inauguration took place on January 10.
Eliyahu Hanavi is one of two remaining synagogues in the Egyptian city. The house of worship is one of several Jewish sites in Alexandria, which was once home to an estimated 30,000-40,000 Jews.
Its current structure was erected in the 1850s, after the original building which dates back to the 1300s, was badly damaged in the late 18th century, during a French invasion of Egypt. It can hold approximately 700 worshipers.
The renovations cost approximately $4 million, paid by the Egyptian government.
Egypt’s Jewish community, which dates back millennia, numbered around 80,000 in the 1940s, but today stands at fewer than 20 people.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi said in November 2018: “If we have Jews, we will build [synagogues] for them.” Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue Alexandria located in Nabi Daniel street. It was built in 1354. It was bombed by the French during their invasion of Egypt in 1798.
Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue is one of the largest synagogues in the Middle East with towering Italian marble columns and brass nameplates of its male patrons, the synagogue seats over 700 people. There is also extra seating upstairs for women. At the front of the synagogue building, there is a closed chamber which holds 30 Torah scrolls.