Chaar-Hachamaim Synagogue Review
This unusual concrete block with a subtle art nouveau floral motif is easily overlooked from the outside. Arrive early, passport in hand, act unthreatening—the security guards can be touchy about letting people in—and one of Cairo's great hidden treasures awaits, with an interior of exquisite stained-glass windows and light fixtures rumored to be from Tiffany. Erected in 1899 by the Mosseri family, the synagogue is seldom used because there are too few remaining Jewish men to hold a service. This possible end masks a long and prosperous history for the Jewish community in Egypt. Over the past 500 years, whenever Europe went through its regular waves of persecution and expulsion, Jews sought refuge in Muslim lands such as Egypt, where they were protected as People of the Book. Only in the 20th century, with colonialism and the emergence of Israel, did local sentiment turn against them. Contact the synagogue to organize a visit. Security is tight, so make sure you carry your passport as proof of identity.
- Address: Shar'a Adly (opposite Kodak Passage), Downtown, Cairo
- Phone: 02/2482–4613
- Location: Downtown and Bulaq