מורשת יהדות המזרח
THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE JEWS FROM EGYPT To be Presented at the Conference on ORIENTALISM AND EDUCATION: ORIENTAL AND SEPHARDI JEWS IN ISRAEL AND THE DIASPORA Ben Gurion University in Beer Sheva Dept of Education By Ada Aharoni, Ph.D. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org http://tx.technion.ac.il/~ada/home.html ABSTRACT The narrative history, literature and cultural heritage of the Jews of Egypt in the twentieth century, is not represented enough in the Israeli educational system and its various programs. This paper explores a few of the reasons for this exclusion, and it describes several of the benefits that would ensue from the inclusion of the history, literature and the cultural heritage of the Jewish Community in Egypt, as well as the history of the “Second Exodus” (1948 - 1967). The major gain for this inclusion is that it would reveal an important branch of the general Heritage Tree of the Jewish people. Various research works and books have been published on this community, such as: Nahar Mitsrayim, and "Les Juifs du Nil," (Jacques Hassoun), and From The Nile To The Jordan (in Hebrew, English, and French editions), and Memoirs From Alexandria, (A. Aharoni), and various works by other authors. It is worthwhile that those works, many of them published by women who were born in Egypt, should be included in the curricula of schools, universities and adult education in Israel and in the Diaspora. This literature delineates a harmonious way of life which includes rich spiritual values of moderation and tolerance and traditional customs. These values should be kept alive and transmitted to the next generations through education and research. This literature also provides important information on Zionist movements and activities in Egypt. In addition, the harmonious model of the Sephardi Jewish way of life in Egypt, could be a potential factor that may contribute to the promotion of peace in the Middle East. The Jews of Egypt were and remain multicultural. They were educated and brought up in the traditions of the symbiotic cultural relations between Jews and Arabs in the Golden Age in Medieval Spain, and between Western and Middle Eastern cultures and values. This possession of a rich cross-cultural heritage imparts them with the ability to appreciate and respect the culture of their Arab neighbors. These factors inherent in their cultural heritage, can constitute a significant bridge that can promote understanding, respect and harmony between Jews and Arabs, as in Egypt before 1948. Another factor which is important to be introduced in the educational system, is what has come to be known as “The Second Exodus”. In 1948, the Jewish community in Egypt was estimated to number approximately 80.000 people, mainly living in Cairo and Alexandria. It was a vibrant, prosperous, and dynamic element of Egyptian society, and it mostly lived in harmony with its Arab neighbors. However, toward the end of the Second World War, due to the conflict in the Middle East, the atmosphere changed, and gradually, the Jewish population was disfranchised and had to emigrate and to leave all their property behind. Today, there are only about seventy old Jews living in Egypt. This traumatic uprooting of a whole ancient Jewish community, termed the “Second Exodus,” which took place in our own century, should be a central element in the teaching of history in educational institutions. The mass emigration of the Jews from Egypt and in other Jewish communities, like Iraq and Syria, took place at the same time that the Palestinians fled from Israel and the Palestinian problem was created. "The Second Exodus" is a blatant proof that in wars and conflicts both sides suffer, and not merely the one side. These historical, literary and cultural facets of the Jews from Egypt and the research and literature pertaining to this community, should be given urgent attention and should be made available and widely used in the Israeli Education System, as well as in world history and educational programs and institutions, including in the electronic media.
Technion, Haifa, Dept. of Humanities 57 Horev Street Haifa, Israel 34343 Tel. 972-4-8243230 Fax : 972-4-8261288
בתמונה: כריכת ספרה של פרופ עדה אהרוני בנושא: נשים יוצרות שלום"