March 15, 2000
His Excellency President Hosni Mubarak
President of the Republic of Egypt
Kasr El Gomhoury
We, the members of the Historical Society of Jews From Egypt (HSJE), with the backing of the international community of Jews from Egypt, have often written to you concerning our Jewish artifacts still in Egypt. These are very dear to us, and constitute our cultural heritage. Unfortunately, we have not yet received a response from you.
We sincerely hope this plea will be answered soon, and that we will have the great pleasure of your kind help and cooperation. We have very good memories of Egypt and of the Egyptian people and culture. We look forward to renewing the warm relationship with the Egyptian people we had in the past when we were living in Egypt. Many of us who have returned to visit have been overwhelmed by the traditional Egyptian hospitality.
As you can imagine, the Torah scrolls (Sefarim), the religious and secular books, the community records located at the Rabbinates (Cairo and Alexandria), and our entire cultural heritage left in Egypt, from the time of our ancestors to the present, are all very dear to us. The fact that they are not accessible to us, or to scholars who would study them for posterity, gives us much sorrow.
We have a suggestion that we hope you will kindly consider: Transfer these Jewish artifacts to an academic institution in New York, where they would be accessible to all. Scholars from all over the world would then be able to study the documents. This action would also give great comfort to the families who originally donated these items to be used in a synagogue on a perpetual basis. Naturally, we are ready to pay for their transfer. We suggest to leave two Torah scrolls in each synagogue for tourists who might wish to worship there on the Sabbath and holidays.
Last but not least, the renewal of the warm relationship between the Jews from Egypt and the Egyptian people could be a model for the future. It would allow many young Jews in the Diaspora to appreciate their historical connection to Egypt. It would also hasten friendly and peaceful relations between Arabs and Jews in the entire Middle