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April 26, 2013

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PAGE 14A r00c00,'l 3 : .... k.CZ0000 We are gour source for: Invitations - aroohures Lellerheads • Envelopes o Esinees Cards • Programs •F]yers Post Cards • Forms Digital Photographt=l . Labels Direct Mail 407.767.7110 www.e legantprin tlng. net 205 North SU'eet ° Longwood, FL 32750 Focus  From page 2A of Egypt's Jews has sparked interest in the Jewish com- munity and its fascinating past among the nation's Muslims. The film, now playing at several theaters and-- whose release Ramses says Health & Fitness Issue An Annual Issue Published By HERITAGE Florida Jewish News and Featuring a Variety of Thought-Provoking Articles on Health and Fitness Related Subjects Publication Date: June 14, 2013 Reaching a Responsive, Health-Conscious Market Deadline for this Important Issue is Wednesday, June 5, 2013 CALL TODAY TO RESERVE YOUR SPACE 407-834-8787 was delayed due to what the government claimed were national security concerns--shows how discussions about Jewish heritage and Jews living in Egypt were silenced during Nasser's rule and beyone; and how little the average Egyptian knows about their Jewish neighbors. Critics who suggest the film reveals how much Egyptians don't know about the history of their own country blame 60 years of misinformation from successive Egyptian governments and anti- Semites worldwide. Ramses's film under- scores the patriotism the Jews displayed to Egypt despite their difficult sit- uation. The movie, for instance, mentions the heroic and patriotic acts of such Egyptian Jews as the famous political activist Henri Curiel during the Suez crisis of 1956, when he acquired secret information about the impending Anglo- French-Israeli invasion of Egypt which he tried to pass on to President Nasser. An attempt by Curiel to regain his Egyptian citizenship for this service, however, failed and the Sinai Campaign went ahead. According to the movie, finally released after out- cries from Egyptian liberal movements calling for free speech and media, Jews forced into leaving their own country never felt anything but Egyptian, and continued offering help to the Egyptian government, especially dur- ing Egyptian-Israeli wars. One who nurtured his 6ontinued connection to his ancestors' homeland was present at Weinstein's funeral. Sam Amiel, an Egyptian Jew who now works in Israel as a senior' program manager for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Cener (JDC), attended as a way of con- necting to the unforgotten lands of his father. "I am an Egyptian Jew, the son of Moussa, who left for the United States some 50 years ago. I came back to be part of my heritage," he told The Media Line. He said, "We at JDC proudly send kosher food to Jewish people in Egypt." Many influential Egyp- tians attended the funeral at the Sha'ar HaShamayim Synagogue on Adly Street in downtown Cairo. Aly al-Saman, President of the International Union for Intercultural and Interfaith Dialogue'and Peace Educa- tion for Europe and Egypt, told The Media Line that, "Egypt belongs to all faiths and it's their [the Jews'] country as much as ours." Gaber El Beltagy, a music professor and an Egyptian opera star who sang at the 100th anniversary of the synagogue in 2007, and was also in attendance, said, "I sang a song at this place in seven languages to show the world that I am a Muslim, and I am happy to be among the Egyptian Jews, my part- ners in our country." Weinstein's successor Haroun was also accompa- nied by Israel's Ambassador to Egypt Yaakov Amitai, who called Weinstein "a mother with a warm heart for the Egyptian Jewish community." After the rituals and HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 26, 2013 speeches, Weinstein's coffin was transferred for burial in the Jewish Cemetery of Basatin, the second old- est Jewish cemetery in the world. It was a fitting burial place fo[ Weinstein, who worked diligently to restore the cemetery and to ensure itwas included under the government restoration program for antiquities. The cemetery had been encroached by trespassers and people living among the headstones. "I hope that our efforts can stop the desecra- tion of Bassalin Cemetery," Rabbi Andrew Baker of the Washington-based Ameri- can Jewish Committee said at the funeral. Filling Weinstein's shoes won't be easy, but Magda Haroun, also known as Mag- gy, is continuing the legacy of a modern strong-willed Egyptian Jewish woman. Born in Alexandria 61 years ago, she practiced law at her father's law firm and is currently a partner with her sister, Nadia Haroun. The Haroun sisters, the youngest Jewish women in Egypt, were raised in a home where humanitarian values were sacred and love .for Egypt intense. "I am the daughter of Shehata Haroun who didn't know the differ- ence between yellow, white or black. To him, Muslims, Jews and Christians were just human beings. We are Egyptians," Maggy said pr.,oudly. Shehata Haroun, who died in 2001, believed strongly in human and socialist values and refused to leave..Egypt even when its Jews were coerced into doing so. He was a founding member of the Egyptian Communist Party along with other leading Egyp- tian Muslim and Coptic politicians• However, he was better known for his hostility towards Zionism and Israel's policies regard- ing the Palestinians. While happy about the release of the film, Maggy Haroun is concerned over neglect and ignorance on the part of the Egyptian gov- ernment and other Egyp- tians concerning those Jews who remain in Egypt, despite the fact that Egyp- tian Jews were an influential part of Egyptian society. "Do people know that the architect who designed and built the famous Omar Makram Mosque was an Ital- ian Jew living in Egypt, by the name of Maria Rossi? Do they know that the famous Egyptian movie star and singer Leila Mourad was a Jew?" she asks. Nonethe- less, Maggy herself says, "I am an Egyptian before being Jewish." That Egyptian part of their identity was always important to the Jews who settled there, having im- migrated from elsewhere. Egypt was a Mecca for Jews around the world escaping Persecution in the West, es- pecially during the 15th and 16th centuries when Jews persecuted in Spain escaped to Egypt. A massive wave of Jewish merchants from throughout the Ottoman Empire also immigrated to Egypt when the Suez Canal was opened in 1869. Not long ago, around the time*of 1952 coup that ousted the last Egyplian monarch, 'King Farouk, Egypt had a vibrant, rich Jewish culture and Jews were prominent members of the Egyptian community. There were some 80,000 Egyptian Jews in 1952, but that number declined as Egyptian-Israeli relations worsened due to propaganda painting the Jews of the Arab world as conspiratorS and Zionists. After the Six- Day War, massive numbers of Egyptians w.ere forced to leave in order to escape prosecution for spying by state authorities. Today, Egypt has 19 syna- gogues: 10 in Alexandria and 9 in Cairo, but only three re- main in operation: in Cairo. the Sha'ar Hashamayim Synagogue; the Maimoni- dies Synagogue; and the Ben-Ezra Synagogue in the Fustat area near the capital. The Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue on Alexandria's Nabi Daniel Street was closed for security reasons in 2012, after Egyptian of- ficials there said they could not guarantee worshippers' safety. There are two types of Arabic-speaking Jews living in Egypt, believed to total fewer than fifty, according to Haroun and her husband, but no official number is available. They are divided between the so-called Rab- binate Jews in Cairo, who also follow the oral law, and the Karaites in Alexandria, who follow only what is written in the Torah [Five Books of Moses]. Maggy's Italian Egyptian husband Dr. Roberto Or- fanelli, who works at the Italian hospital in Cairo's Abassia neighborhood, said, "We are all Egyptians, regardless of our religion• I am a Catholic and my wife is a Jew. I don't like politics and I don't believe in it. It's a lot of headache. Most of the Jews in Egypt decided to stay away from politics and keep a low profile.... There was anti-Semitism in the United States as well, but here in Egypt it was worse." "The remaining Egyp- tian Jews decided to stay below the radar in oder to.avoid friction due to the fact that Egyptians are unwillingly being fed misinformation about Egyptian Jews who were once a thread in the fabric of Egyptian society," Or- fanelli told The Media Line. "Ramses's film will hope- fully help give Egyptians more real truths about the once illustrious gyptian Jewish community." The turnout at the fu- neral gives Maggy Haroun hope to change Muslim and Christian Egyptians' views about the Jewish commu- nity as she t.ries to continue Weinstein's legacy. "I don't feel threatened in my own country, and surprisingly, the Egyptian government, Muslim friends and the system are protecting me," she said defiantly. "It's not fear that we experience here in Egypt. It's ignorance--ignorance which calls into question our value as human beings and how much we want to live like everyone else, as Egyptians in peace!" she told The Media Line, add- ing, "I will do my best to revive this Jewish heritage - and restore our legacy as patriotic Egyptians."