February 21, 2001
Ambassador Nabil Fahmy
Embassy of Egypt
2310 Decatur Place
Washington D.C 2008
Thank you for your June 26, 2000, reply to our Honorary Chairman, Rabbi Shimon Hai Alouf. We consider it the first positive step towards resolving the issues we raised in our petition to President Hosni Mubarak.
In that petition, we asked for permission to transfer our Jewish religious articles and copies of our community records to an institution in the United States. They belong to us, they are our heritage and our history, and we want them to be available for use, consultation and research at a location closer to where most of us Jews from Egypt live today.
Your response raised two points:
· 1. These artifacts belong to the Egyptian Jewish community, and
· 2. They are registered with the Egyptian Antiquities authority, are subject to Egyptian law protecting the Egyptian national heritage, and therefore cannot be sent abroad.
Regarding your first point, you stated specifically that "The Jewish
artifacts are in the possession of the Jewish Temples in Egypt, while the remaining are in the possession of the Egyptian Jewish community". Why did you mention two entities, "the Jewish Temples" and "the Egyptian Jewish community"? Aren't the "Temples" managed by the "Jewish Community"? If not, then who manages them? Our understanding is that the synagogues in Egypt are closed, except for one or two that are opened only for rare special events. They are generally in poor condition, and what they contain is generally not available for use, inspection, or even inventory.
As we mentioned before, we tried many times to contact the President of the Jewish Community in Egypt, Mrs. Esther Weinstein, and her daughter Miss Carmen Weinstein, but we never received a reply. People requesting official documents they