History Made in Cairo Synagogue
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History Made in Cairo Synagogue

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History was mode on a recent Friday night at the Giniza Synagogue here when members of the Israel Consul staff, which several days earlier settled into an office in Cairo, attended the Shabbat evening services. Normally an attendance of 15 people at the Friday night services is considered good, but on this particular weekend 80 people crowded into the synagogue to attend the services.

The Israeli contingent was headed by Josef Hadass, Israel’s Consul General; who established residence in this city earlier in the week.

The services were conducted by Moded Gobai, a reader, while contingents in addition to the Israeli group included three French visitors to the city; this correspondent, who was accompanied by Saul Bodner, a member of the U.S. Committee Sports for Israel Board of Directory a student from Bethpage, long Island, who is studying at the American University here and a student from California who serves as a part-time correspondent for Time Magazine.

The services were held in Middle East Sephardic style while Israel television cameras clicked away. Hadass and his contingent, including several wives and women secretaries, walked in just prior to the start of the moariv service and were guided to their seats by Sexton Samuel Cohen. Ophira Saphir, one of the two remaining Ashkenazic Jews in Egypt, supervised the allocation of seats to the Israeli contingent and directed the women to a section set aside for them.

Hadass, of Syrian birth, and a Sephardic Jew, was honored with the cantillation of the traditional Friday night kiddush prayer. After tasting the wine, the cup was carried around to all members in attendance at the service by Mrs. Saphir.

At the conclusion of the service, Hadass seated himself at the rear of the little synagogue and conversed in Arabic with the Jewish members of the local community. Mrs. Saphir told the Jewish Telegraphic. Agency that there are only 140 members of the Jewish faith remaining in all of Cairo, which has on overall population of about eight million people.

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