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The Jewish Community of Cairo

Cairo

In Arabic: القاهرة‎ 

Capital of Egypt

It is almost certain that Jews settled in Fostat at the time of its establishment in 641 by Arab occupation, and they built their synagogue in the ancient byzantine citadel. In the 10th century Jews arrived from Babylon and founded two communities - the Babylonian and the Palestinian. After the Fatimids established the new city of Cairo (969), north of Fostat, the local Jewish community became the most famous in Egypt. Jews continued to dwell in Fostat (old Cairo) until it was burned by the Egyptians (1169) in an effort to prevent its capture by the crusaders; the famous "genizah" was found in the ancient synagogue of Fostat at the end of the 19th century.

Maimonides, his son Abraham, and his grandson David lived in Fostat. The heads of the Palestinian community in the b. Moses ha-Levi, and his brother Sar Shalom ha-Levi. Persecutions took place during the rule of the Mamluks (1250-1517), who persecuted non-Muslim communities in general and the large Christian Coptic minority in particular. Synagogues and churches were destroyed and closed and fanatical Muslims plotted against Jews for many reasons. It is said that Sultan Baybars gathered the Jews and the Christians under the citadel walls and threatened to burn them alive unless they agreed to pay a large sum of money (13th century). Mamluk rule forbade Jews to trade in spices and other imports from the Far East, and their economic situation worsened. Most of them were tradesmen and manufacturers and a privileged group still continued to deal in money and banking.

Meshullam of Volterra reports 800 Jewish households in Cairo in 1481 as well as 150 Karaite and 50 Samaritan families. According to an Arab historian, there were five synagogues in Cairo. In the beginning of the 16th century, many refugees from Spain came to Cairo. There were two distinct groups of Jews: maghrebim (Jews of North African origin), and Sephardim, each with its own bet din and charitable institutions; and there was occasional conflict between them. The Sephardim surpassed the other communities and were appointed as rabbis for the musta'rabs, who adopted the customs of the Spanish Jews in their prayers. The descendants of the exiles assimilated with the Jewish majority and forgot their Spanish language. Among the great Spanish scholars of the 16th century were R. David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, R. Moses b. Isaac Alashkar, R. Jacob Berab, R. Bezalel Ashkenazi, R. Jacob Castro, and R. Solomon di Trani.

The Turks, who conquered Egypt in 1517, did not interfere in Jewish religious affairs. They badly treated the rich Jews, however, most of whom occupied official appointments, such as the operation of the mint and the collection of taxes; many of them were condemned to death on various pretexts. In 1524 the governor Ahmed Pasha extorted a vast sum of money from the director of the mint - Abraham Castro - by threatening to slaughter all the Jews. However on the day of payment Ahmed Pasha was murdered by a group of his own soldiers and the danger was averted. This day of salvation was commemorated as an annual Purim Mitzrayim (Purim of Egypt). The extortion and tyranny worsened in the 17th and 18th centuries with the decline of Ottoman rule.

Among the sages of the Jewish community of Cairo a special mention should be made of Chayyim Vital from the kabbalists of Safed, Mordecai ha- Levi, Solomon Algazi; and in the 19th century Moses Algazi, Elijah Israel, and Raphael Aaron b. Simeon.

A new era for the Jewish community in Cairo started with the rise of Muhammad Ali (1769-1849) to Egyptian rule (1805). Moses Montefiore, Adolphe Cremieux, and Solomon Monk (the secretary of the Jewish consistoire of France) visited Cairo, and founded modern schools; and after the economic development of Egypt Jews from other Mediterranean countries settled in Cairo. In 1882 there were 5,000 Jews in Cairo and after 15 years, 11,500, including 1,000 Karaites. In 1917 the Jewish community numbered 25,000, among them many refugees from eastern Europe. Jews prospered in commerce and banking and even took part in public affairs and government institutions. R. Yom Tov Israel was appointed to the legislative assembly and Jacob Cattaui became the chief revenue officer of Egypt; his son Joseph was minister of finance (1923) and another son Moses was president of the Cairo community for 40 years. In 1925 Chief Rabbi Haim Nahoum joined the Egyptian Academy of Science.

During early 20th century there were a number of Jewish newspapers in Cairo, among them Mitzrayim (Ladino, 1900), Die Zeit (Yiddish, 1907-08), and the weekly magazines l'Aurore (French, 1908), and Israel (French, 1919). In 1934 there was an Arabic weekly magazine, Al-Shams. The Karaites also published a weekly magazine of their own called Al-Kalim.

In 1947, 41,860 Jews (64% of Egyptian Jewry) lived in Cairo, 58.8% of whom were merchants, and 17.9% worked in industry. Although it contained a few wealthy Jews, the Cairo community was poorer than Alexandria. After the arrests of Jews in 1948-49 and the persecutions of 1956-57, only 5,587 Jews were left. After the Six-Day War this number decreased to about 1,500, and by 1970 only a few hundred remained, especially in the new mixed quarter of Heliopolis. Massive arrests began in June-July 1954; about 100 Jews were concentrated in two camps and fifteen of them brought to trial. In the spy case which ended in 1955, Moses Marzouk and Samuel 'Azar were condemned to death by hanging and others received life sentences. (They were released and sent back to Israel after the Six-Day War.) In 1956 the head of the community Salvador Cicurel left Egypt and was succeeded by Albert Romano. In November 1956 the government confiscated the hospital. After the death of R. Haim Nahoum, Chayyim was elected as chief rabbi in 1960; he left Egypt in 1972.

In 1997 there were 100 Jews living in Egypt, most them in Cairo.

Place Type:
City
ID Number:
251466
Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
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Yaqub (James) Sanu (Sanua) (1839-1912), journalist, Egyptian nationalist and playwright who wrote in Fr ench, English, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Italian, Arabic and Egyptian Arabic, born in Cairo, Egypt. He was sent to be educated in Livorno, Italy in 1853, where he studied Arts and Literature. When he returned to Egypt in 1855 he worked as a tutor for Prince Yaken's children before he became a teacher in the Arts and Crafts School in Cairo.

Sanua became a journalist in Egypt, writing in a number of languages including Arabic and French. He played an important role in the development of Egyptian theatre in the 1870s, both as a writer of original plays in Arabic as well as with his adaptations of French plays. However, it was as a satirical nationalist journalist that he became famous in his day. Early in 1877, Sanua founded the satirical magazine "Abou Naddara", which had an immediate appeal to both those who could read and those who had it read to them. It was quickly suppressed as being liberal and revolutionary, and its author banished. In March and April 1877 fifteen issues appeared, and of these no copies are known to exist.

Sanua went into exile to France on 22nd June 1878. In France he redoubled his journalistic efforts, and his celebrated journal, reproduced lithographically from handwriting in both Arabic and French, continued to appear, printed at a shop aptly located in the Passage du Caire in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris.

This was the first Arabic-language magazine to feature cartoons as well as the first periodical printed in Egyptian-Arabic, and not in Classical Arabic. The captions for these being given in French and Arabic. Its circulation was considerable in Egypt, where it was smuggled inside other larger newspapers. There is clear evidence of its presence, even in the highest circles, in Egypt. The magazine concentrated on both political and financial difficulties in Egypt, and Sanua probably had privy information from friends and well-wishers within the administration. Sanu coined the phrase "Egypt for Egyptians", who served as a ralling cry against the British interference in the country.

Harari, Victor Raphael (1857-1945), financier, born in Cairo, Egypt. Harari began his working life in the Egyptian Ministry of Finance when the country was theoretically independent but effectively under British control. Over the years rose to the position of director of the accounts department. In 1929 he was elected to the board of directors of the Egyptian National Bank and headed the boards of many economic organizations in Egypt. In 1928 he was knighted by King George V of England.
Industrialist

Member of an important Cairo family of merchants and community leaders, he studied engineering in Paris and on returning to Cairo in 1882 he became an official in the ministry of public works. After studying sugar manufacture in Moravia, in the Czech lands, he directed a sugar plant in Egypt and established other industrial plants. Cattaui entered politics in 1915 and was a member of the Egyptian delegation to London which established Egyptian independence. In 1922 he was on the committee which drafted the Egyptian constitution. From 1924 he was minister of finance, then in 1925 minister of communications and served as a senator from 1927 to 1936.
Weinstein, Esther (1910-2004), communal leader, born as Esther Chaki to a Greek father and an Egyptian mother in Cairo, Egypt.

Weinstein became president of the Jewish Community of Cairo in 1996, the first woman to be elected to this function. She led the dwinling community until 2002. Deicated to the preservation of the rich Jewish heritage of Egypt, Weinstein was opposed to the sale of a number of synagogues that were not in use anylonger in early 1990s. During her tenure the leadership of the Jewish community of Cairo deployed renewed efforts on the conservation of Jewish sites and artifacts in Egypt.

In 2002, when she was eighty-two, Weinstein's activity during twenty-five years with Caritas Egypt (a confederation of Catholic social service groups) were acknowledged by a special award grated to her by the Vatican in 2002.

Esther Weinstein is the mother of Carmen Weinstein, who succeeded her at the presidency of the Jewish community of Cairo in 2004.

Richard (Ricardo Anthony) Betesh (1938-2015), singer and song writer, known as Richard Anthony, born in Cairo, Egypt. His father, Edgar Btesh, friom a Jewish family of Aleppo, Syria, ran a textile business, and his mother, Margaret, was the daughter of Samuel Shashua Bey, honorary consul of Iraq in Alexandria, Egypt. His childhood was spent in Arab countries, then in England and Argentina. In 1951 he went to Paris, France, and strudied at a Paris high school. After graduating from high school he went on to study law. Then he began to play the saxaphone at night clubs and worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman in the daytime. He began to appear on television and on the stage performing many songs, becoming wealthy and very well known. Betesh recorded over 600 songs and sold more than 50 million records.

Cohen, Ronald Sir, (1945-), businessman, known as "the father of social investment”, born in Cairo, Egypt, into a family which had originated in Aleppo in Syria. After the 1956 Suez crisis, as a result of Nasser's persecution of the Jews the family was forced to flee Egypt and immigrated to to England.

After attending grammar school in north London, Cohen won a scholarship to Oxford University where he earned a degree in economics. He then went to Harvard Business School after which he worked as a management consultant. In 1972, along with two former business school colleagues as partners, he founded Apax Partners, one of Britain's first venture capital firms. The company grew slowly at first, but expanded rapidly in the 1990s, becoming Britain's largest venture capital firm, and "one of three truly global venture capital firms”. In 2002 he was the inaugural inductee into the Private Equity Hall of Fame, at the British Venture Capital Association and Real Deals' Private Equity Awards.

His organization was responsible for encouraging substantial investments in a number of Israeli companies.When he stepped down from the chairmanship thirty-three years later, Apax was the largest global private-equity firm based in Europe, with an impressive investment record, more than $40 billion under management, offices in eight countries, and more than 300 staff.

Cohen has been a pioneer in the area of social investment. In 2000, he became Chairman of the Social Investment Task Force (SITF) the purpose of which organization was "to set out how entrepreneurial practices could be applied to obtain higher social and financial returns from social investment, to harness new talents and skills, to address economic regeneration and to unleash new sources of private and institutional investment".

In 2002, Cohen co-founded and became chairman of Bridges Ventures, an innovative sustainable growth investor that delivers both financial returns and social and environmental benefits, and in 2003, Cohen co-founded the Portland Trust together with Sir Harry Solomon, co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Hillsdown Holdings. The aim of Portland Trust is to help develop the Palestinian private sector and relieve poverty through entrepreneurship in Israel. The Portland Trust has offices in London, Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
In 2005, Sir Ronald, as he was known after he had been awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth, chaired the Commission on Unclaimed Assets which looked into how unclaimed funds from dormant bank accounts could be used to benefit the public. The final recommendation of the Commission was that the funds should be used by a social investment bank be created to help finance charitable and voluntary projects by providing seed capital and loan guarantees.

In 2007 Cohen co-founded and became a non-executive director of Social Finance UK, a London-based advisory that has worked to create a social investment market in the UK.

Since its official launch in July 2011, Sir Ronald Cohen has been the Chairman of Big Society Capital, Britain's first social investment bank. The role of the BSC is to help speed up the growth of the social investment market, so that socially orientated financial organizations will have greater access to affordable capital, using an estimated £400million in unclaimed assets left dormant in bank accounts for over 15 years and £200million from the UK’s largest high street banks.

In 1974 Cohen stood as the parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Party in Kensington North and in 1979 he stood as its European candidate in London West. In 1996 he switched allegiance to the Labour Party, becoming a supporter of Tony Blair, British Prime Minister. In November 2011 he was financially linked with a new "non-political" movement in Israel, the sole goal of which is to change the country’s electoral system. He is a member of the University of Oxford Investment Committee and Member of the Harvard Management Company Board.

Hezkia Eliezer (Kiki) Arochas (1924-2001), cantor, born in Cairo, Egypt, the second of six boys. His father, Eliezer Hezkia Arochas was from Izmir, Turkey; and his mother, Esther Cohen, was a born in Jerusalem, Israel.

From his youth, Kiki displayed a strong talent and love for hazanut, a constant which remained with him during his long and productive life in America. He put his singing talent to task early on in his life. At the age of six, he already led his entire school every morning in Shaharit prayers. He was also the head of the choir in the great Ashkenazic synagogue of Cairo. He enjoyed all types of music in many languages, and his repertoire spanned from operatic arias to Arabic ballads.

However, cantorial music held a very special place in his heart. He enjoyed praying more than any other type of singing - and he was appreciated. He composed a unique liturgy, intermingling Ladino and Arabic tunes. The audiance, touched by his Tehillim recitals, were moved to tears while listening to his voice. At one time or another, everyone in his congregation was affected by his kindness, and indeed his love for his fellow human beings is sorely missed.

Ilya Mohadab Sasson, known as Elias Moadab (1916-1952), comedian born in Cairo, Egypt, to a Jewish Syrian father and Jewish Egyptian mother from the city of Tanta, Egypt. He began his career as a singer working in many nightclubs such as Al Arizona and Alooberg, where he encountered famous Egyptian comedian Ismail Yassine who helped him enter the film industry and played alongside him in many films, most notably the 1948 classic ‘Anbar’ that starred Laila Mourad. In his performances in over 20 films, he used to speak in the Shami (Syrian) dialect of Arabic, creating the impression that he was born in Syria.  

Abraham Ben Hillel (1103-1223) Poet, scholar and physician. Born in Egypt, he is also known as Abraham He-Hasid (the Pious) or He-Haver (the friend), who is often mentioned in the writings of Abraham Ben Moshe Ben Maimon. In 1167 he was among the three rabis who signed a takkanah in order to ensure family purity in Egypt. In 1196 he published the satire MEGILLAT ZUTA, written in rhymed prose. It became very popular. He died in Fostat, Egypt.

Judah Halevi (1075-1141) Hebrew poet and philosopher.

Born in Tudela, Spain, apparently to a wealthy and learned family. He receivd a comprehensive eduction in both Hebrew and Arabic. In his youth he traveled to Andalusia and in Cordoba, participated in a poetry writing contest, winning it for his imitation of a poem by Moses Ibn Ezra. A close friendship bound the two and Judah Halevi spent some time with Ibn Ezra in Granada, where he also wrote his first important poems. With the conquest of Muslim Spain by the Almoravides from Africa (after 1090) Judah Halevi left Granada and traveled for twenty years through many communities. In Toledo he practiced medicine in the service of the king. He was also engaged in trade, especially in Egypt. Judah Halevi's fame spread and he had a broad circle of friends and admirers in numerous Jewish communities. Especially close and long-lasting were his ties with Abraham Ibn Ezra. Together they traveled to various cities of Muslim Spain and North Africa.
Judah Halevi's decision to emigrate to Eretz Israel was a gradual one and reflected his philosophy that the ideal existence for the Jews was attainable only in their own land. He arrived at Alexandria in 1140 accompanied by his son-in-law Isaac, the son of Abraham Ibn Ezra. For several months he stayed in Cairo with Halfon Halevi, a great Jewish merchant. His departure to Eretz Israel was delayed and his friend tried to convince him to remain in Egypt. It seems that he died in Egypt and was also buried there.
Some 800 poems written by Judah Halevi are known. He wrote about 80 love poems, addressed to a deer or gazelle. Most of his poems of eulogy and lament (approximately 180) were written for his famous contemporaries – poets, philosophers, religious scholars, nobles and philanthropists. The most sensitive of this type were written for members of the Ibn Ezra family. Among the 350 piyyutim Judah Halevi wrote for the Jewish festivals are a group of poems about the Diaspora, in which he reflected on the suffering of the Jewish people, heightening the idea by imagery and descriptions drawn from ancient sources. Judah Halevi also wrote lyric poems expressing personal religious experiences. Some 35 are his songs of Zion, which express longing for Eretz Israel and are an intellectual effort to make other Jews conscious of the redemption attainable there.

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The Jewish Community of Cairo

Cairo

In Arabic: القاهرة‎ 

Capital of Egypt

It is almost certain that Jews settled in Fostat at the time of its establishment in 641 by Arab occupation, and they built their synagogue in the ancient byzantine citadel. In the 10th century Jews arrived from Babylon and founded two communities - the Babylonian and the Palestinian. After the Fatimids established the new city of Cairo (969), north of Fostat, the local Jewish community became the most famous in Egypt. Jews continued to dwell in Fostat (old Cairo) until it was burned by the Egyptians (1169) in an effort to prevent its capture by the crusaders; the famous "genizah" was found in the ancient synagogue of Fostat at the end of the 19th century.

Maimonides, his son Abraham, and his grandson David lived in Fostat. The heads of the Palestinian community in the b. Moses ha-Levi, and his brother Sar Shalom ha-Levi. Persecutions took place during the rule of the Mamluks (1250-1517), who persecuted non-Muslim communities in general and the large Christian Coptic minority in particular. Synagogues and churches were destroyed and closed and fanatical Muslims plotted against Jews for many reasons. It is said that Sultan Baybars gathered the Jews and the Christians under the citadel walls and threatened to burn them alive unless they agreed to pay a large sum of money (13th century). Mamluk rule forbade Jews to trade in spices and other imports from the Far East, and their economic situation worsened. Most of them were tradesmen and manufacturers and a privileged group still continued to deal in money and banking.

Meshullam of Volterra reports 800 Jewish households in Cairo in 1481 as well as 150 Karaite and 50 Samaritan families. According to an Arab historian, there were five synagogues in Cairo. In the beginning of the 16th century, many refugees from Spain came to Cairo. There were two distinct groups of Jews: maghrebim (Jews of North African origin), and Sephardim, each with its own bet din and charitable institutions; and there was occasional conflict between them. The Sephardim surpassed the other communities and were appointed as rabbis for the musta'rabs, who adopted the customs of the Spanish Jews in their prayers. The descendants of the exiles assimilated with the Jewish majority and forgot their Spanish language. Among the great Spanish scholars of the 16th century were R. David b. Solomon ibn Abi Zimra, R. Moses b. Isaac Alashkar, R. Jacob Berab, R. Bezalel Ashkenazi, R. Jacob Castro, and R. Solomon di Trani.

The Turks, who conquered Egypt in 1517, did not interfere in Jewish religious affairs. They badly treated the rich Jews, however, most of whom occupied official appointments, such as the operation of the mint and the collection of taxes; many of them were condemned to death on various pretexts. In 1524 the governor Ahmed Pasha extorted a vast sum of money from the director of the mint - Abraham Castro - by threatening to slaughter all the Jews. However on the day of payment Ahmed Pasha was murdered by a group of his own soldiers and the danger was averted. This day of salvation was commemorated as an annual Purim Mitzrayim (Purim of Egypt). The extortion and tyranny worsened in the 17th and 18th centuries with the decline of Ottoman rule.

Among the sages of the Jewish community of Cairo a special mention should be made of Chayyim Vital from the kabbalists of Safed, Mordecai ha- Levi, Solomon Algazi; and in the 19th century Moses Algazi, Elijah Israel, and Raphael Aaron b. Simeon.

A new era for the Jewish community in Cairo started with the rise of Muhammad Ali (1769-1849) to Egyptian rule (1805). Moses Montefiore, Adolphe Cremieux, and Solomon Monk (the secretary of the Jewish consistoire of France) visited Cairo, and founded modern schools; and after the economic development of Egypt Jews from other Mediterranean countries settled in Cairo. In 1882 there were 5,000 Jews in Cairo and after 15 years, 11,500, including 1,000 Karaites. In 1917 the Jewish community numbered 25,000, among them many refugees from eastern Europe. Jews prospered in commerce and banking and even took part in public affairs and government institutions. R. Yom Tov Israel was appointed to the legislative assembly and Jacob Cattaui became the chief revenue officer of Egypt; his son Joseph was minister of finance (1923) and another son Moses was president of the Cairo community for 40 years. In 1925 Chief Rabbi Haim Nahoum joined the Egyptian Academy of Science.

During early 20th century there were a number of Jewish newspapers in Cairo, among them Mitzrayim (Ladino, 1900), Die Zeit (Yiddish, 1907-08), and the weekly magazines l'Aurore (French, 1908), and Israel (French, 1919). In 1934 there was an Arabic weekly magazine, Al-Shams. The Karaites also published a weekly magazine of their own called Al-Kalim.

In 1947, 41,860 Jews (64% of Egyptian Jewry) lived in Cairo, 58.8% of whom were merchants, and 17.9% worked in industry. Although it contained a few wealthy Jews, the Cairo community was poorer than Alexandria. After the arrests of Jews in 1948-49 and the persecutions of 1956-57, only 5,587 Jews were left. After the Six-Day War this number decreased to about 1,500, and by 1970 only a few hundred remained, especially in the new mixed quarter of Heliopolis. Massive arrests began in June-July 1954; about 100 Jews were concentrated in two camps and fifteen of them brought to trial. In the spy case which ended in 1955, Moses Marzouk and Samuel 'Azar were condemned to death by hanging and others received life sentences. (They were released and sent back to Israel after the Six-Day War.) In 1956 the head of the community Salvador Cicurel left Egypt and was succeeded by Albert Romano. In November 1956 the government confiscated the hospital. After the death of R. Haim Nahoum, Chayyim was elected as chief rabbi in 1960; he left Egypt in 1972.

In 1997 there were 100 Jews living in Egypt, most them in Cairo.

Written by researchers of ANU Museum of the Jewish People
Yaqub (James) Sanu

Yaqub (James) Sanu (Sanua) (1839-1912), journalist, Egyptian nationalist and playwright who wrote in Fr ench, English, Turkish, Persian, Hebrew, Italian, Arabic and Egyptian Arabic, born in Cairo, Egypt. He was sent to be educated in Livorno, Italy in 1853, where he studied Arts and Literature. When he returned to Egypt in 1855 he worked as a tutor for Prince Yaken's children before he became a teacher in the Arts and Crafts School in Cairo.

Sanua became a journalist in Egypt, writing in a number of languages including Arabic and French. He played an important role in the development of Egyptian theatre in the 1870s, both as a writer of original plays in Arabic as well as with his adaptations of French plays. However, it was as a satirical nationalist journalist that he became famous in his day. Early in 1877, Sanua founded the satirical magazine "Abou Naddara", which had an immediate appeal to both those who could read and those who had it read to them. It was quickly suppressed as being liberal and revolutionary, and its author banished. In March and April 1877 fifteen issues appeared, and of these no copies are known to exist.

Sanua went into exile to France on 22nd June 1878. In France he redoubled his journalistic efforts, and his celebrated journal, reproduced lithographically from handwriting in both Arabic and French, continued to appear, printed at a shop aptly located in the Passage du Caire in the 2nd arrondissement in Paris.

This was the first Arabic-language magazine to feature cartoons as well as the first periodical printed in Egyptian-Arabic, and not in Classical Arabic. The captions for these being given in French and Arabic. Its circulation was considerable in Egypt, where it was smuggled inside other larger newspapers. There is clear evidence of its presence, even in the highest circles, in Egypt. The magazine concentrated on both political and financial difficulties in Egypt, and Sanua probably had privy information from friends and well-wishers within the administration. Sanu coined the phrase "Egypt for Egyptians", who served as a ralling cry against the British interference in the country.

Harari, Victor Raphael
Harari, Victor Raphael (1857-1945), financier, born in Cairo, Egypt. Harari began his working life in the Egyptian Ministry of Finance when the country was theoretically independent but effectively under British control. Over the years rose to the position of director of the accounts department. In 1929 he was elected to the board of directors of the Egyptian National Bank and headed the boards of many economic organizations in Egypt. In 1928 he was knighted by King George V of England.
Cattaui, Joseph Aslan
Industrialist

Member of an important Cairo family of merchants and community leaders, he studied engineering in Paris and on returning to Cairo in 1882 he became an official in the ministry of public works. After studying sugar manufacture in Moravia, in the Czech lands, he directed a sugar plant in Egypt and established other industrial plants. Cattaui entered politics in 1915 and was a member of the Egyptian delegation to London which established Egyptian independence. In 1922 he was on the committee which drafted the Egyptian constitution. From 1924 he was minister of finance, then in 1925 minister of communications and served as a senator from 1927 to 1936.
Weinstein, Esther
Weinstein, Esther (1910-2004), communal leader, born as Esther Chaki to a Greek father and an Egyptian mother in Cairo, Egypt.

Weinstein became president of the Jewish Community of Cairo in 1996, the first woman to be elected to this function. She led the dwinling community until 2002. Deicated to the preservation of the rich Jewish heritage of Egypt, Weinstein was opposed to the sale of a number of synagogues that were not in use anylonger in early 1990s. During her tenure the leadership of the Jewish community of Cairo deployed renewed efforts on the conservation of Jewish sites and artifacts in Egypt.

In 2002, when she was eighty-two, Weinstein's activity during twenty-five years with Caritas Egypt (a confederation of Catholic social service groups) were acknowledged by a special award grated to her by the Vatican in 2002.

Esther Weinstein is the mother of Carmen Weinstein, who succeeded her at the presidency of the Jewish community of Cairo in 2004.
Richard (Ricardo Anthony) Betesh

Richard (Ricardo Anthony) Betesh (1938-2015), singer and song writer, known as Richard Anthony, born in Cairo, Egypt. His father, Edgar Btesh, friom a Jewish family of Aleppo, Syria, ran a textile business, and his mother, Margaret, was the daughter of Samuel Shashua Bey, honorary consul of Iraq in Alexandria, Egypt. His childhood was spent in Arab countries, then in England and Argentina. In 1951 he went to Paris, France, and strudied at a Paris high school. After graduating from high school he went on to study law. Then he began to play the saxaphone at night clubs and worked as a vacuum cleaner salesman in the daytime. He began to appear on television and on the stage performing many songs, becoming wealthy and very well known. Betesh recorded over 600 songs and sold more than 50 million records.

Cohen, Ronald
Cohen, Ronald Sir, (1945-), businessman, known as "the father of social investment”, born in Cairo, Egypt, into a family which had originated in Aleppo in Syria. After the 1956 Suez crisis, as a result of Nasser's persecution of the Jews the family was forced to flee Egypt and immigrated to to England.

After attending grammar school in north London, Cohen won a scholarship to Oxford University where he earned a degree in economics. He then went to Harvard Business School after which he worked as a management consultant. In 1972, along with two former business school colleagues as partners, he founded Apax Partners, one of Britain's first venture capital firms. The company grew slowly at first, but expanded rapidly in the 1990s, becoming Britain's largest venture capital firm, and "one of three truly global venture capital firms”. In 2002 he was the inaugural inductee into the Private Equity Hall of Fame, at the British Venture Capital Association and Real Deals' Private Equity Awards.

His organization was responsible for encouraging substantial investments in a number of Israeli companies.When he stepped down from the chairmanship thirty-three years later, Apax was the largest global private-equity firm based in Europe, with an impressive investment record, more than $40 billion under management, offices in eight countries, and more than 300 staff.

Cohen has been a pioneer in the area of social investment. In 2000, he became Chairman of the Social Investment Task Force (SITF) the purpose of which organization was "to set out how entrepreneurial practices could be applied to obtain higher social and financial returns from social investment, to harness new talents and skills, to address economic regeneration and to unleash new sources of private and institutional investment".

In 2002, Cohen co-founded and became chairman of Bridges Ventures, an innovative sustainable growth investor that delivers both financial returns and social and environmental benefits, and in 2003, Cohen co-founded the Portland Trust together with Sir Harry Solomon, co-founder and former chairman and CEO of Hillsdown Holdings. The aim of Portland Trust is to help develop the Palestinian private sector and relieve poverty through entrepreneurship in Israel. The Portland Trust has offices in London, Tel Aviv and Ramallah.
In 2005, Sir Ronald, as he was known after he had been awarded a knighthood by Queen Elizabeth, chaired the Commission on Unclaimed Assets which looked into how unclaimed funds from dormant bank accounts could be used to benefit the public. The final recommendation of the Commission was that the funds should be used by a social investment bank be created to help finance charitable and voluntary projects by providing seed capital and loan guarantees.

In 2007 Cohen co-founded and became a non-executive director of Social Finance UK, a London-based advisory that has worked to create a social investment market in the UK.

Since its official launch in July 2011, Sir Ronald Cohen has been the Chairman of Big Society Capital, Britain's first social investment bank. The role of the BSC is to help speed up the growth of the social investment market, so that socially orientated financial organizations will have greater access to affordable capital, using an estimated £400million in unclaimed assets left dormant in bank accounts for over 15 years and £200million from the UK’s largest high street banks.

In 1974 Cohen stood as the parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Party in Kensington North and in 1979 he stood as its European candidate in London West. In 1996 he switched allegiance to the Labour Party, becoming a supporter of Tony Blair, British Prime Minister. In November 2011 he was financially linked with a new "non-political" movement in Israel, the sole goal of which is to change the country’s electoral system. He is a member of the University of Oxford Investment Committee and Member of the Harvard Management Company Board.
Hezkia Eliezer (Kiki) Arochas

Hezkia Eliezer (Kiki) Arochas (1924-2001), cantor, born in Cairo, Egypt, the second of six boys. His father, Eliezer Hezkia Arochas was from Izmir, Turkey; and his mother, Esther Cohen, was a born in Jerusalem, Israel.

From his youth, Kiki displayed a strong talent and love for hazanut, a constant which remained with him during his long and productive life in America. He put his singing talent to task early on in his life. At the age of six, he already led his entire school every morning in Shaharit prayers. He was also the head of the choir in the great Ashkenazic synagogue of Cairo. He enjoyed all types of music in many languages, and his repertoire spanned from operatic arias to Arabic ballads.

However, cantorial music held a very special place in his heart. He enjoyed praying more than any other type of singing - and he was appreciated. He composed a unique liturgy, intermingling Ladino and Arabic tunes. The audiance, touched by his Tehillim recitals, were moved to tears while listening to his voice. At one time or another, everyone in his congregation was affected by his kindness, and indeed his love for his fellow human beings is sorely missed.

Ilya Mohadab Sasson (Elias Moadab)

Ilya Mohadab Sasson, known as Elias Moadab (1916-1952), comedian born in Cairo, Egypt, to a Jewish Syrian father and Jewish Egyptian mother from the city of Tanta, Egypt. He began his career as a singer working in many nightclubs such as Al Arizona and Alooberg, where he encountered famous Egyptian comedian Ismail Yassine who helped him enter the film industry and played alongside him in many films, most notably the 1948 classic ‘Anbar’ that starred Laila Mourad. In his performances in over 20 films, he used to speak in the Shami (Syrian) dialect of Arabic, creating the impression that he was born in Syria.  

Abraham Ben Hillel

Abraham Ben Hillel (1103-1223) Poet, scholar and physician. Born in Egypt, he is also known as Abraham He-Hasid (the Pious) or He-Haver (the friend), who is often mentioned in the writings of Abraham Ben Moshe Ben Maimon. In 1167 he was among the three rabis who signed a takkanah in order to ensure family purity in Egypt. In 1196 he published the satire MEGILLAT ZUTA, written in rhymed prose. It became very popular. He died in Fostat, Egypt.

Judah Halevi

Judah Halevi (1075-1141) Hebrew poet and philosopher.

Born in Tudela, Spain, apparently to a wealthy and learned family. He receivd a comprehensive eduction in both Hebrew and Arabic. In his youth he traveled to Andalusia and in Cordoba, participated in a poetry writing contest, winning it for his imitation of a poem by Moses Ibn Ezra. A close friendship bound the two and Judah Halevi spent some time with Ibn Ezra in Granada, where he also wrote his first important poems. With the conquest of Muslim Spain by the Almoravides from Africa (after 1090) Judah Halevi left Granada and traveled for twenty years through many communities. In Toledo he practiced medicine in the service of the king. He was also engaged in trade, especially in Egypt. Judah Halevi's fame spread and he had a broad circle of friends and admirers in numerous Jewish communities. Especially close and long-lasting were his ties with Abraham Ibn Ezra. Together they traveled to various cities of Muslim Spain and North Africa.
Judah Halevi's decision to emigrate to Eretz Israel was a gradual one and reflected his philosophy that the ideal existence for the Jews was attainable only in their own land. He arrived at Alexandria in 1140 accompanied by his son-in-law Isaac, the son of Abraham Ibn Ezra. For several months he stayed in Cairo with Halfon Halevi, a great Jewish merchant. His departure to Eretz Israel was delayed and his friend tried to convince him to remain in Egypt. It seems that he died in Egypt and was also buried there.
Some 800 poems written by Judah Halevi are known. He wrote about 80 love poems, addressed to a deer or gazelle. Most of his poems of eulogy and lament (approximately 180) were written for his famous contemporaries – poets, philosophers, religious scholars, nobles and philanthropists. The most sensitive of this type were written for members of the Ibn Ezra family. Among the 350 piyyutim Judah Halevi wrote for the Jewish festivals are a group of poems about the Diaspora, in which he reflected on the suffering of the Jewish people, heightening the idea by imagery and descriptions drawn from ancient sources. Judah Halevi also wrote lyric poems expressing personal religious experiences. Some 35 are his songs of Zion, which express longing for Eretz Israel and are an intellectual effort to make other Jews conscious of the redemption attainable there.