Ben Ezra

A Lonely Levantine Shabbat

In Cairo, the once-crowded Shar Hashamaim is restored, but there are almost no Jews left to pray in it.

Special to the Jewish Week
04/28/2010

 I make it a point to go to shul on Saturday morning, and that wasn’t going to change when I found myself in Cairo last summer. Yes, it is in an Arab country, but it is my Arab country, where I was born and where of late I have found myself traveling again and again. There is no one there for me — the 80,000 Jews who once lived in Egypt are pretty much gone, as are all my relatives. Cairo, to paraphrase Janet Flanner, was yesterday.

  david cowles, Ark at Ben Ezra, Cairo,1994.

Text Context January 2010: Generations

01/01/2010

‘Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, the last of life, for which the first was made,” Robert Browning wrote in “Rabbi Ben Ezra.” The Victorian poet had interests in Judaica and was inspired by the 12th-century Spanish scholar and poet, Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra. In Browning’s optimistic poem, youth and age are not flip sides of life’s journey; generations are interconnected, always.

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