CAIRO: The Supreme Council of Antiquities is working on renovating the Moses Bin Maimon’s Synagogue in El-Gamaliya, Zahi Hawass, head of the SCA announced in a press conference Thursday.
The restoration of the synagogue is part of a key plan by the SCA to restore all the major religious sites in Egypt including 10 Jewish temples.
The council is expected to spend LE 700 million every year on the renovations.
Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue’s expenses alone amounted to approximately LE 8.5 million, restoring about 60 percent so far.
Renovations started in June 15, 2008 and are expected to be completed by March 30, 2010, coinciding with the birthday of its founder.
Moses Ben Maimon was born in 1135 AD in Cordoba, Spain, and died in Egypt in 1204. He was a philosopher, mathematician, a religious scholar and a physician. It is said that he was the private physician of Salah Eddin El-Ayoubi’s family.
“The Jewish temples belong to the Egyptian people, said Hawass, “that’s why the Supreme Council of Antiquities strives to reestablish this Egyptian heritage. There are 10 other Jewish temples across Egypt in the restoration plan.
Hawass asserted that the synagogue will be restored according to its previous structure.
The synagogue, which was declared an antiquity in 1986, dates back to the 19th century, however, most of it was ruined during the 1992 earthquake and due to high water levels that covered its floors.
“Due to the high water table, and the need to wait until the sewage system in the area had been improved, restoration work could not be conducted until this time, SCA said in a statement sent to the press.
“Since work began, the walls and ceilings have been reinforced, the floor has been isolated from the water table, and all cement – the product of previous bad quality restoration work – has been removed. The doors, windows and chairs of the temple have also been restored, and the dirt and debris that had built up within has been removed.
In the press conference held at the temple Thursday morning, Hawass addressed recent allegations that surfaced the internet claiming that the SCA has abandoned the restoration sites. “Much restoration work is being carried out, here and all over Egypt. It is clear for all to see that the internet rumors are wrong, he said.
“I believe these rumors were started to hurt [Culture Minister] Farouk Hosni’s bid to become the next Director General of UNESCO.
“I believe that the people who wrote these comments should come forward and see what has been done, he added.