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The Synagogue of Ben Ezra

The Synagogue of Ben Ezra Cairo

The Ben Ezra Synagogue is situated behind the Hanging Church. This was originally a Christian church of the Coptic Christians, but which they had to sell to the Jews to in 882 AD to meet the annual taxes demanded by the Muslim rulers during that time. Abraham Ben Ezra, who was from Jerusalem during, purchased the church for 20,000 dinars during the reign of Ahmed Ibn Tulun.

The Synagogue of Ben Ezra, also known as the El-Shamieen Chruch, is said to be the site where baby Moses was found. The Synagogue also had a old copy of the Old Testament which was supposed to be written by Ezra Prophet (Al-Azir).

The Synagogue has undergone several renovations over the centuries - the latest being in 1892. During the renovations, several scared books and numerous original documents from the Middle Age were found.

The Ben Ezra Synagogue

Today, The Ben Ezra Synagogue is a much-visited site in Cairo and stands as one of the most famous historical monument in Cairo. The synagogue is in the shape of a basilica and has two floors - the first floor being dedicated to the men and the second floor to the women. The first floor is rectangular in shape and is 17 meters long and 11.3 meters wide. The whole floor is divided into three parts - separated with steel bars that have been coated in marble colors.

In the front of the sanctuary is a platform for the rabbi to read the Torah. This platform is in the shape of an octagon and is made of marble. Then there is a copper fence on the eighth side of the platform where the Torah and its rolls rest. In front of the platform is a memorial Stella - in the middle of which are two semi-arches standing on three pillars. The Synagogue is known for its designs, which date back to the Turkish period.

One can find various patterns like rectangles, pentagons, starts, octagons, etc. There are floral designs as well called the Ottoman Arabesque, which consists of lotus, palmettos, etc.

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