Egypt: The Egyptian ministry of tourism and antiquities has announced the start of a project to restore the Temple of Ben Ezra in the religious complex of Old Cairo.
“It is of great importance as it is the oldest synagogue in Egypt and the Middle East,” said the council’s Secretary-General Mostafa Waziri.
Built around 1,200 years ago, the synagogue is believed to be one of – if not the oldest – Jewish temples in the world.
The temple was named after Ezra, the religious scholar and Jewish philosopher. A group of historical documents were found in it, known as the “Cairo Geniza,”. Further, the temple is planned in the style of cathedrals and is heading towards Jerusalem.
The temple consists of two floors, like the rest of the synagogues. The first floor is for men and the second for women. In the center is the preaching platform where the Torah is read, and in the east is a high platform, the Ark of the Covenant, which contains the Torah scrolls, obscured by a carved door and a curtain from the inside.
As per the media reports, the decorative forms of this temple reflect the unique artwork of Egypt with its multiple influences, whether from antiquity, Byzantine, or Islamic times.