The Ben Ezra Synagogue was formerly a Coptic Church in the Coptic Quarter but the Coptic Christians were forced to sell it to a rich Egyptian Jew at the Time to pay for the Jizya (tax on Non Muslims) forced on them by the Fatimids. Since the 10th Century, it became a synagogue for egyptian jews and inside the famed Ancient Hebrew Manuscripts, called Cairo Geniza are found. The Synagogue is open to the Public and sits just a stone's throw away from the Abu Serga Church and admission is free. however, no photos or videos are allowed inside the synagogue, just outside.
The Jewish Synagogue
After the fall of Jerusalem in around 70 AD, the area saw an influx of Jews, and it's here where Egypt's oldest synagogue, Ben Ezra is located. No pictures allowed here and the security protested when I took a pictures of the outside
As I mentioned it in the previous tip, Moses was found here by Pharaoh's doghter. The picture shows the well where, according the legend, he was found. It is situated in the back yard of the synagogue. However, other stories tell us that the Synagogue was built over that particular place.
One thing is for sure, this Sinagogue is home to so many stories and mysteries and is entarely up to us to belive in them or not.
Ben Ezra's Temple has been erected in the 6th or presumably the 9th Century AD which makes it one of the oldest surviving synagogues, although it is now a museum more than a functioning synagogue.
The legend says that until the 9th century, there was a church instead. The Jewish community bought it from Copts who needed the money to pay taxes to the Islamic rulers.
According to another legend Moses, left in the basket, was found here by Pharaoh's daughter.
In 19th century over 400,000 items were discovered there, including a valuable collection of ancient manuscripts and Torah scrolls, that are thousands of years old.
The Ben Ezra Library is situated in a small building in the south western courtyard behind the Ben Ezra Synagogue.
The sole synagogue in Coptic Cairo is said to have been built on the spot where Pharaoh's daughter found Moses. Although this theory goes back thousands of years, the Synagogue itself is less ancient. An older church existed until the 9th century when the Jewish community bought it from the Christians and turned it into a synagogue. It is unknown how much of the original church survived, but at least the floor plan did. Architecturally, the synagogue is an intriguing a mix of Jewish, Christian and Islamic styles. The Ben Ezra synagogue is also where the famous 11th century manuscripts, referred to as the Geniza, were found. Note that photography is forbidden in the interior (I had to snap quickly!).
This is the oldest known Jewish structure in Egypt. The synagogue is not in use today, however it is open to visitation once you pass through a security check. The synagogue actually inhabits a building that was once a church. There is a very small Jewish population still in Egypt today. Therefore, the three principal monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Islam, and Christianity can all be found within the city.
Ben Ezra Synagogue is the oldest synagogue in Egypt. It was built on the site where it is believed that the Pharaoh's daughter found Moses. There is a well at the back of the temple where the coffers in which Prophet Moses as an infant was supposedly placed by his mother. This place was originally a Christian church that was bought from The Copts in 882 AD. Rebuilding in the 19th century revealed a number of medieval manuscripts, including secular and religious documents, called the "Geniza".
Ben Ezer's Temple was built between 6th and the 9th Century AD and contains a Jewish heritage library that was inaugurated in 1997.
In 1896, a collection of documents known as "Jineesah" were found in the temple.
Ben Ezra Synogogue is the only non-christian religious building of Coptic Cairo. It's the oldest synagogue in the city, although it's not exactly a stunning one.
Ben Ezra is more important for its library and legend than for its beauty. There are several manuscripts of interpretations of the Old Testament written in a very peculiar and ancient language: "Hebrew Arabic".
As for the legend, behind the church you can see a place that once used to be along the Nile: it's the place where - allegedly - Moses was found and saved from the Nile waters
If you're going to be in Old Cairo, stop in the Ben Ezra Synagogue. You weren't allowed to take photos, so I bought this picture there. A church was first built on the site in 336 B.C. It was originally a Christian church. The church has undergone much restoration and the current building dates back to 1892 when the original collapsed. It was rebuilt following the old model. The church is a rectangle, two-story buiding with the 1st dedicated for the men and the 2nd is for the women.
Within walking distance of Abu Serga, there is another religious facility that is also very important to the history of Cairo. Currently, there is debate going on still about whether the Ben Ezra Syn. was originally a Coptic church, and then was purchased by the Jews of that time period, or whether that was the original building. The official Jewish papers were removed by a different country, so true documentation is not available. What is known is that this is a wonderful piece of religious history, and once again, a free place.