Egypt’s Jewish community head dies at 84

Egyptian Jews congregate in the Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue in Cairo on 31 October 2007.  By Samir Raafat (AFP/File)

Egyptian Jews congregate in the Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue in Cairo on 31 October 2007. By Samir Raafat (AFP/File)






CAIRO (AFP) – Carmen Weinstein, the leader of Egypt’s tiny remaining Jewish community, died on Saturday at the age of 84, a friend and lawyer said.

Weinstein, who fought for the preservation of Jewish synagogues and heritage sites in Egypt, died of natural causes, said Magda Haroun, one of the few Jews left in the Arab country.

“She was a strong woman. She fought for the safeguarding of the Jewish cemetery and the synagogues,” said Haroun.

Weinstein always shunned the spotlight in a country where hostility towards Jews, fuelled by conflicts with neighbouring Israel, is pervasive.

In her final years, she fought against a fraud conviction over a sale of apartments and saw a three-year prison sentence overturned. She did not serve any time behind bars.

Weinstein will be buried in Cairo’s Jewish cemetery, Haroun said, after which elections will be held in the community to name a new leader.

Egypt’s Jewish community is estimated to number no more than 200, out of 80,000 who left or were forced out after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war following the establishment of the Jewish state.


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