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They were also icons of a long-gone cosmopolitan era in Egyptian culture.Jewish-born singer and actress Laila Murad was a towering figure in midcentury Egyptian film and music.
The rabbi and philosopher Maimonides’ 12-century synagogue still stands in Cairo.Following the Rosh Hashanah service, the congregation moves to an attached building for a reception.In addition to apples and honey, the traditional Rosh Hashanah snack, the spread includes red wine in small plastic cups, pomegranate seeds and dates—“a symbol of Egypt,” says Haroun. After the reception she sits smoking a cigarette and sitting on the stone steps of the Synagogue courtyard.Madga Haroun’s family is one of those that chose to remain.Her father was a communist who worked in an intellectual property firm, aiding patent and trademark applications.The building was renovated in 2010, although it is not used with any regularity.
Elsewhere is a Jewish cemetery dating back to the 9th century where burials still take place, although the graveyard fell into disrepair in recent decades.
“I don’t know if next year we’ll have members of the community, I mean.
It doesn’t make sense to be present if you don’t have members,” she says.
Despite their invisibility today, as recently as the mid-1940s, Egypt’s Jews made up a diverse and vibrant community that at its peak numbered more than 80,000 people.
Egyptian Jews were writers, film directors, business figures and political activists.
In the 1950s, some Jews were issued one-way travel documents called “laisser-passer,” while others were stripped of their property.