ARCENCPostings

Thursday, February 27, 2020

A US coronavirus outbreak is almost inevitable. Here's how you can prepare. | Live Science


https://www.livescience.com/coronavirus-epidemic-how-to-prepare.html?utm_source=Selligent&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=9160&utm_content=LVS_newsletter+&utm_term=300598&m_i=_yb_ogF6egWiZLJNvY2IT8i5ukipxXJniWco9Nyc63KaCzp4BblUJxVURGOxcrbEDrIt5pg5yULQUYPqF4iRl%2BeEbzThhn2VHqvPocr__9

A US coronavirus outbreak is almost inevitable. Here's how you can prepare.

With novel coronavirus outbreaks popping up throughout the world, U.S. health officials on Tuesday (Feb. 25) advised the American public to prepare for an epidemic in which the virus rapidly spreads to many people within a short window of time.

"Now's the time for businesses, hospitals, community schools and everyday people to begin preparing," Dr. Nancy Messonnier, the director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said in a news conference held Feb. 25. With no vaccine or treatment available to combat these infections, Americans must be prepared to take other precautions to protect themselves and their communities from the virus, she said.

"If we're not able to hold the line in the next week or two, you're going to start seeing a lot more cases," said Dr. George Rutherford, a professor of epidemiology and biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco. 

But what can you do, personally, to prepare for an impending viral outbreak? Live Science talked to several experts about how to prepare for coronavirus in the US. Here are some tips:

Practice good hygiene and health habits 
  • Wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (with at least 60% to 95% alcohol).
  • Cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow sleeve or tissue. 
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, as you can pick up the virus that way. 
  • Clean frequently touched surfaces and objects like doorknobs and countertops. Evidence suggests that disinfectants with 62% to 71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (bleach) can "efficiently" inactivate coronaviruses within a minute, though it's not yet known how the new coronavirus reacts to these products, Live Science previously reported.
  • Get the flu shot if you haven't already! Although the seasonal flu vaccine cannot protect you from COVID-19 directly, you may be more likely to develop severe pneumonia if you contract both diseases simultaneously, The New York Times reported. By avoiding the flu, you may also avoid making a trip to the doctor in the middle of a COVID-19 epidemic, when health care workers may be overwhelmed with other patients. 

Be prepared to stay home 

  • Talk with your employer about what the company's work-from-home and sick leave policy might be in the event of an outbreak.
  • Schools may be closed in your area during an outbreak. Ask your child's school, local school board or health department about how much advance notice there might be preceding a closure. Plan for how you will handle child care if schools and day care centers are closed. 
  • Large group gatherings may be canceled, including concerts, religious services and public events. 
  • Keep up with local announcements to find out about those cancellations.
  • If you or someone in your household regularly takes prescription drugs, it may be wise to ask your health care and insurance providers about procuring an emergency supply.
  • Make a plan for how to care for those at greater risk of serious illness and hospitalization, such as those over 65 years old and those with preexisting health conditions. Also have a backup plan for who will care for your dependents if you get sick, personally. 
  • Make sure you have reasonable amounts of groceries and other basic household necessities, such as laundry detergent. However, it's a balance: "On the one hand, your chance of exposure will be minimal if you stay home, but if the cost of that is runs on grocery stores and having nothing available, that's a problem," Rutherford said.

Check in with your neighbors and loved ones 

  • Talk with your neighbors to check in on their health status and see how you can help each other if one of you is home sick or caring for others. 
  • Share the newest information from local health authorities, and make sure others are up to date.

What to do if you or a household member has symptoms of COVID-19 

  • If you are experiencing high fever, weakness, lethargy, or shortness of breath or have underlying conditions, you should seek medical attention at the nearest hospital, according to Dr. Amesh Adalja, an infectious disease expert at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. "The older you are, the shorter the fuse you should have for seeking care," Rutherford added. Infants should also be taken to a health care center if they have a fever or are breathing rapidly.
  • Health care centers may establish triage tents or separate entrances for those with suspected COVID-19 infections, Adalja said. It may be wise to call ahead to learn if this is the case, and what you should do when you get to the hospital.
  • If you live with an infected person, you may be asked to voluntarily quarantine yourself at home to prevent the possible spread of the infection to others, according to the Seattle Public Health Insider.

If you have to leave your home (to seek medical care, for example), wearing a medical face mask can help reduce your chance of infecting others. If you don't have a mask, make sure to cover your coughs and sneezes with an elbow sleeve or tissue.

What to do if you are healthy, but have to go outside in an affected area 

  • Wearing a standard medical mask can't protect you from COVID-19, as they are not designed to lock out viral particles, Live Science previously reported. However, if you suspect you may have been exposed to the virus, you might consider wearing a mask as a courtesy to others.  
  • In crowded spaces, creating distance between yourself and others can help reduce your risk of person-to-person infection, according to the Seattle Public Health Insider. Officials recommend standing at least 3 feet away from nearby persons, but if an epidemic proves more severe, the recommended distance may be increased.

 You can read more about these nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) on the CDC website. Some of these countermeasures may resemble those used during a pandemic bout of influenza.

Originally published on Live Science.

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The Vintage Egyptologist: Bringing Fashion and Heritage Back Into the Spotlight - Scoop Empire

https://g4k5b9h2.stackpathcdn.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Blog_Colleen.Darnell-John_Darnell-750x430.jpg
You'll have to click on the link to view this one. Glenn

https://scoopempire.com/the-vintage-egyptologist-bringing-fashion-and-heritage-back-into-the-spotlight/

Yeah, I know, kind of leaves me speechless, too. 

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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Rosetta Stone will never return to Egypt, says expert at £1bn museum in Cairo | London Evening Standard


https://www.standard.co.uk/go/london/arts/rosetta-stone-return-egypt-museum-a4370731.html
Crowd-pleaser: the                Rosetta Stone is hugely popular at the British Museum
Crowd-pleaser: the Rosetta Stone is hugely popular at the British Museum ( Getty Images )

Rosetta Stone will never return to Egypt, says expert at £1bn museum in Cairo

Dr Eltayeb Abbas, director of archaeological affairs at the new £1 billion museum on the outskirts of Cairo, said priceless ancient Egyptian artefacts such as the Rosetta Stone kept in museums around the world will instead inspire people to travel to Egypt to see where they originated. 

He said they will act as a "good advert" for the delayed "mega-project" museum overlooking the Great Pyramids of Giza, which plans to open later this year. 

Egyptians hope the facility will encourage tourists back to the country.  It was also revealed that the mummy of King Tutankhamun — currently in his tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Luxor — will travel 300 miles in May to its new permanent resting place in the museum amid much local controversy. 

Asked about famous ancient artefacts held outside of Egypt, Dr Abbas told the Standard: "If we are going to talk seriously — these objects will never come to Egypt. But being there in Berlin or London in the British Museum — that is good propaganda for Egypt. It's a good advert." 

He said he would still like to have the Rosetta Stone — the most-visited single object in the British Museum — but added: "We went into so many negotiations about this but we failed to bring it. We did ask many times before but I think now we all agree that it is okay for us to stay there, for the Rosetta Stone. "People need to see these kind of objects." 

Dr Hussein Kamal leads the restoration of Tutankhamun's golden coffin at the Grand Egyptian Museum

He also knocked back the idea of creating a replica of the stone at the new museum. The ancient tablet, which unlocked the secret of Egyptian hieroglyphs due to its Ancient Greek inscription, has been a long-running source of tension between Cairo and London. 

Rediscovered in 1799 during Napoleon's campaign in Egypt, it was captured by British forces in 1801 and transferred to the British Museum.

Ahead of the Grand Egyptian Museum's opening, the largest collection of King Tutankhamun's treasures have been on a worldwide tour, and are currently in London at the Saatchi Gallery. 

The show's curator Tarek El Awady said: "This exhibition is very significant and special because it will be the last visit of King Tut to London."

Tutankhamun: Treasures Of The Golden Pharaoh presented by Viking Cruises is at the Saatchi Gallery until May 3. Tickets on sale at tutankhamun-london.com.

The Standard travelled to Egypt with Wings Tours & Nile Cruises

Tut treasures get new gallery home

King Tutankhamun's treasures, including his famous golden death mask, will move permanently to a gallery especially designed for the pharaoh in the new museum.

There has been a row in Egypt over whether Tutankhamun's body should be moved from the Valley of the Kings, where the tomb was discovered in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. Many Luxor residents rely on the tomb for tourism, but museum chiefs had already prepared a place for the mummy.

Dr Eltayeb Abbas said: "I think King Tut himself would be happy to have his mummy here."

He said they will be "very cautious" when moving the body which is in a tomb accessed by a narrow shaft. He added: "My team is doing a study on how the mummy looks now because it is fragile and really weak."

The boy pharaoh's golden coffin has already been undergoing restoration work, along with many of the other treasures, in the museum's laboratories

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Leopard 'guardian' of mummy discovered in Aswan - Culture - ANSAMed.it


http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/culture/2020/02/20/leopard-guardian-of-mummy-discovered-in-aswan_2609cbaf-4ade-4d9b-b107-47753572f095.html

Leopard 'guardian' of mummy discovered in Aswan

Italians on team. Egyptologist calls it exceptional find

20 February, 15:59


(ANSAmed) - MILAN, FEBRUARY 20 - Archaeologists with the Egyptian-Italian Mission at West Aswan (EIMAWA) on Thursday released the first images from a necropolis they discovered a year ago, including that of a leopard's face in vivid colour painted on the wooden lid of a sarcophagus, a sort of "guardian" of the dead.

The mission, led by Egyptologist Patrizia Piacentini of Milan State University, uncovered the necropolis five metres under the desert sand in Aswan, and in a few weeks will go back to work there.

The archaeological area extends for more than 25,000 square metres on the western bank of the Nile River, near the Mausoleum of Aga Khan III, and it hosts more than 300 tombs, some dug into the hillside and some underground.

This necropolis is where the residents of Aswan were buried between the 7th century B.C. and the 3rd century A.D.

One of the tombs, number AGH026, already made news last year when a large room was found with about 30 bodies buried between the 2nd century B.C.

The bodies were accompanied by many objects, including stuccoed body covers painted with gold, a funerary bed, parts of sarcophagi, a stretcher for the mummies, and lots of pottery vessels. This is where the team found the painted leopard, a symbol of strength that was placed by the head of the deceased person to offer protection during the journey to the afterlife.

Piacentini told ANSA that although the leopard is a frequent symbol in Egypt, "it is very rare to find it painted".

"The wooden support from the 2nd century B.C. was very fragile. The sand had slipped into the fibres, so we decided to detach the stucco to save the design. It was a very delicate operation that had us holding our breath, we had tears in our eyes," she said.

The pieces will be recomposed by the expert hands of Ilaria Perticucci and Rita Reale, who, following an initial "virtual" restoration, will soon begin the actual one in the laboratories in Aswan.

"It's an exceptional find, much like what we found in the room next to it: pine nuts dating back to the 1st century A.D., a rarity given that the plant was imported," Piacentini said.

"The use of these seeds was known in Alexandria for the preparation of sauces and dishes," she said.

"They were certainly a luxury good, and show once again how the tomb belonged to important people," she said.

New information for piecing together their identities could come as soon as the upcoming spring mission, in which the multidisciplinary team of historians, paleopathologists, archaeobotanists, chemists, computer scientists, and restorers will work to uncover the diets, illnesses, and causes of death of the people buried in the necropolis.(ANSAmed).

© Copyright ANSA - All rights reserved
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Sunday, February 23, 2020

ANE TODAY - 202002 - Servant Figurines from Egyptian Tombs: Whom Did They Depict, and How Did They Work? -


http://www.asor.org/anetoday/2020/02/servant-figurines

Servant Figurines from Egyptian Tombs: Whom Did They Depict, and How Did They Work?

By Rune Nyord

Ever since they first became widely known in the late nineteenth century, the wooden figurines deposited in ancient Egyptian tombs during the late third and early second millennium BCE have captured the imagination of modern audiences. Were they scenes of daily life or puppets that were they somehow meant to be used?

Granary tableau. Tomb of Meketre (Thebes), Dynasty 12. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 20.3.11. (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/545281)

Tableau of man plowing. Unknown provenance, Dynasty 12. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 36.5. (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544255)

Arranged in identifiable tableaux of agriculture, crafts, food production, and river voyages, the figurines replicate motifs from traditional wall decorations in tombs. Wall decorations were mostly displayed in accessible parts of the tomb where the family would regularly perform ancestor cult rituals.

Scenes of bird trapping (above) and plowing (below). Tomb chamber of Itet (Meidum), Dynasty 4. Egyptian Museum, Cairo JE 43809.

But figurines were mostly deposited in tomb shafts or tomb chambers, never to be seen again. Carved wood gave the figurines considerable flexibility, though the quality of the execution often varied with the skill of the maker. The separate arms of many figurines provided flexibility when arranging their poses, but once fixed they were not intended to be moved further. With the moveable limbs, painted wood, and small scale suggests to the modern viewer nothing so much as toys.

Figurines in a ransacked tomb chamber next to the coffin (right). Tomb of Djehutynakht (Barsha), Dynasty 12. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (1915).


Figurines in a chamber separate from the burial chamber itself. Tomb of Meketre (Thebes), Dynasty 12. Metropolitan Museum of Art (1920).

Their perceived toy-like quality has influenced modern interpretations since the late nineteenth century. The nursery atmosphere evoked by the figurines may well have called to mind popular stories of toys coming to life, such as E.T.A. Hoffmann's The Nutcracker and the Mouse King or Hans Christian Andersen's The Steadfast Tin Soldier. More recently, we may think of examples like the Toy Story to realize that this idea still holds a highly intuitive status.

Nineteenth-century toys coming to life. Carl Geissler, illustration for E.T.A. Hoffmann's Nussknacker und Mausek├Ânig (1840). (https://etahoffmann.staatsbibliothek-berlin.de/wp-content/uploads/Geissler_Nussknacker_Tafel2_1840.jpg)

Surely, the thinking went, the Egyptian figurines were believed to come to life (in this case during the afterlife), and the purpose was no doubt to serve the deceased, to make sure he would be well provided for throughout eternity. As the Egyptians have not left us any texts that can be regarded as straightforward explanations of the purpose of the figurines, this explanation seemed as good as any, and has been dominant for the last century.
But despite this seemingly reasonable explanation there are many discordant details concerning the figurines and their deposition being bent – sometimes unwittingly – to make them fit with the overall idea.
One clear case is the 'anonymity' of the figurines. In the traditional interpretation, the figurines do not really represent anyone specific. Rather, they are meant to create a work force for the afterlife out of nothing. But this does not fit with the common idea in Egyptian art of an intrinsic connection between a representation and that which it represents. For this reason, it is generally stressed that unlike many other Egyptian representations of humans in three dimensions, the servant figurines are 'anonymous.' This apparently neutral description implies not just that figurines tend to be uninscribed, but that they are deliberately kept that way in order to serve their purpose.
But while statistically rare, there are a number of examples of servant figurines identified by name, sometimes with a title or designation of their ritual role. One example is a funerary boat model from the Middle Egyptian site of Meir showing four inscribed ritualists surrounding the bier on which the mummy of the tomb owner is shown.

Funerary boat with inscribed figures. Tomb of Ukhhotep (Meir), Dynasty 12. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 12.183.3.

The first man is labeled simply with his role 'Lector priest', while the other has both his ritual title and his name, 'the cupbearer Neferiu.' The two priestesses are labeled by their ritual role as the goddesses Isis and Nephthys (with the deceased playing the role as their brother Osiris), followed by the names of the human beings performing these roles, respectively Hetepet and Hathorhetepet.
Such cases, where the figurines were clearly conceived as representations of specific individuals, are problematic for the idea that the images come to life. This contradicts the purportedly generic quality of the figurines as representing nothing only a category of servants. While such inscribed exemplars are statistically rare, they are known from a number of sites. Thus, not only is the designation as 'anonymous' a misnomer, but it is a misleading product of the traditional explanation, prompted by their toy-like quality.
If there is little basis for the idea that the figurines came to life, while at the same time their motifs show strong parallels with the traditional decoration of tomb walls, is there a new interpretation that reflects the general Egyptian conceptions of images?
From parallels in wall decoration we know that women like this figurine were offering bearers in the ancestor cult, often personified representations of the individual estates where the offerings were produced.

Figurine of offering bearer. Tomb of Meketre (Thebes), Dynasty 12. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 20.3.7. (http://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/544210)

This suggests that the wider repertoire of scenes represent different steps of the production process of offerings presented during the ancestor cult. In other words, the figurines represent actions actually taking place in the estates of the mortuary establishment and elsewhere, which were sometimes identified as actual people. In fact, whether or not they were inscribed, they would 'represent' specific processes actually taking place, or expected to take place, in the ancestor cult.
Rather than regarding them as a magical backup system, it seems more likely that they were meant to establish and render permanent the connection between the owner of the tomb, the production of the mortuary estates, and the people performing the necessary labor. We tend to focus on the benefits for the tomb owner, but it is likely that this relationship was reciprocal, and the estates and trustees also benefited from the benevolent gaze and blessing (not to mention the initial funding) of the ancestor whose cult they maintained.
We may even speculate that the figurines were merely the material dimension of such a double-sided pledge between ancestor and descendants. An interpretation along these lines, which can only be sketched here in the most general terms, has the advantage of avoiding the projection of nineteenth-century ideas about supernatural toys, while instead focusing on a well-attested use of images in ancient Egypt as makers and maintainers of social or cosmic connections.

Rune Nyord is Assistant Professor of Ancient Egyptian Art and Archaeology at Emory University.
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Abu Simbel Temples and their uncovered treasures - Egypt Today


https://www.egypttoday.com/Article/9/81880/Abu-Simbel-Temples-and-their-uncovered-treasures
Abu Simbel- CC via Wikimedia.jpg Abu Simbel- CC via Wikimedia.jpg

Abu Simbel Temples and their uncovered treasures

Sat, Feb. 22, 2020

By Consultant Engineer & Architect Medhat Abdul Rahman Ibrahim

When my granddaughter picked up a magazine and read a report about Abu Simbel temple project, she asked some questions about the project and the story of the solar alignment on the face of Ramses II as she knows I am one of the teams who worked in the project.

On February 22, the sun illuminates the four statues of King Ramses II. I would like to share some details concerning the project of Abu Simbel temples.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), some joint venture companies, and the Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities had made tremendous progress over 5 years to complete the relocation of Abu Simbel temple away from Lake Nasser to save it from the rising water of the High Dam.

Since the two temples are carved inside mountains, the ceilings, walls and the blocks were marked before cutting them so they can be rebuilt again. The cutting lines of the statues were carefully chosen; the new site was chosen to conserve the same direction of the sun alignment.

The phenomenon of the solar alignment on Ramses II statues attracts a lot of tourism to Egypt, to enjoy the antiquities, and to know more details about the Abu Simbel Temples. This phenomenon occurs twice a year on October 22 and February 22, marking King Ramses' birthday and coronation, respectively.


File- Sun illuminates the statue of King Ramses II- Egypt Today/ Mohamed Fawzy

In addition to the beautiful drawings on the walls and ceilings, which show the marvelous art of the temple, visitors are encouraged to observe the three faces of the statues because they reflect different facial expressions: one of them is smiling, the other is not and the third looks sad.

Uncovered treasures

Lake Nasser is famous for sailing, fishing, and alligators. The area surrounding the lake is equally important; the abandoned east side of Nasser Lake could be wisely used by the government via using local mud to build bungalows for tourits. This place could be named Abu Simbel Oasis.

In this area, a visitor can watch the stars shinning in the sky and the moon light, especially in the middle of each Islamic month when the moon light covers the lake. So, it is highly recommended to build a great hall with a dome made of glass to watch the sky at night.


Astronomy Station - CC via Pixabay-Mammiya.jpg

The construction of an astronomy station on the east side of Lake Nasser will encourage many people to come to Abu Simbel and watch the sky and stars.

Furthermore, the green area on the east side should be maximized to supply people with their needs; new plants can be implanted since water, soil and laborers are available.

Building a fish factory will increase exports, turning Lake Nasser into an added-value for the residents of Upper Egypt. Traditional art and handmade products of the locals must get the needed support to expand to provide special souvenirs for the tourists.


A NASA satellite image, taken by one of the Expedition 25 crew members on the International Space Station, shows the lights of Cairo, Alexandria and the Nile River, Egypt October 28, 2010. Egypt's population has now reached 100 million and according to Aleksandar Bodiroza, representative of the U.N, the pressure Egypt faces is acute. 97% of its people live on just 8% of its territory, crowded along the Nile, Egypt's population is growing by 2.5 million people a year and six people in ten are under 29 years old. Picture taken October 28, 2010. NASA/Handout via REUTERS

Dr. Farouk El Baz, the famous Egyptian space scientist and geologist, may consider examining this wonderful site and giving his opinion on constructing this astronomy station.

I hope that Minister of Tourism and Antiquities Dr. Khalid el-Anany reads this article and I am ready to give more ideas to boost tourism in Egypt.
 
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A Bittersweet Homecoming for Egypt’s Jews - The New York Times


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/23/world/middleeast/a-bittersweet-homecoming-for-egypts-jews.html

A Bittersweet Homecoming for Egypt's Jews

A rare ceremony at an ancient synagogue brought 180 Jews back to Egypt, decades after they were pressured to leave. But few Egyptians knew about it, highlighting government ambivalence.

Doris Wolanski and her son Simon at the entrance of Mrs. Wolanski's childhood synagogue in Cairo on Tuesday.Credit...Sima Diab for The New York Times

CAIRO — Clutching a decades-old black-and-white photo, Doris Wolanski directed a vehicle through Cairo's chaotic traffic, her gaze trained on the street corners, in search of rue du Metro.

The photo showed an 8-year-old girl and her mother on a balcony overlooking a wide, deserted boulevard. The girl was Mrs. Wolanski, now 71; the apartment was her Jewish family's home until they were expelled from Egypt in 1956, during the Suez crisis. Now she was trying to find it again.

The address wasn't much help — rue du Metro had been renamed — but she hoped that details on the photo might lead her home. Spotting a familiar landmark, she filled with anxious anticipation.

"My stomach is churning, it really is," she said. "I'm back to that little girl of 8 with my uniform, two pom-poms and a hat. It's a very strange feeling."


Mrs. Wolanski's mission was part of a much larger homecoming for Egypt's Jewish community, which at its peak numbered 80,000 and is now racing toward extinction.

Image
Mrs. Wolanski showed a picture of herself and her mother on the balcony of their home in the Heliopolis neighborhood of Cairo.Credit...Sima Diab for The New York Times

Last weekend, 180 Jews from Europe, Israel and the United States traveled to the city of Alexandria on Egypt's Mediterranean coast to attend religious ceremonies at a historic synagogue that was rescued from ruin. It was the largest such gathering of Jews in Egypt since they were pressured to leave during the Arab-Israeli wars of the 1950s and 1960s.

Egypt's government paid for the $4 million synagogue renovation — part of a longstanding drive to rescue the country's crumbling Jewish heritage which President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has stepped up.

Last year, Mr. el-Sisi ordered the renovation of a badly dilapidated Jewish cemetery which is one of the oldest in the world.

And he supported a scholarship project, run with the help of an Israeli scholar, that uncovered a rare, 1,000-year-old Hebrew Bible.

But Mr. el-Sisi's embrace of Egyptian Jews is also awkward and laced with contradictions. The visit of 180 Jews took place under a news media blackout, with no coverage in Egyptian outlets, and amid iron-tight security by Egyptian officials who at times outnumbered their visitors.

Although Mr. el-Sisi paints himself as a moderate, he has done little to counteract anti-Semitism in Egyptian society, where Jews are often conflated with Israel, and where many young Egyptians know little of their country's Jewish past — and how it ended.

"I'm full of questions," said Philippe Ismalun, who fled Egypt after his father was arrested during the 1967 Middle East war. "After so many years of Jews being told that Egypt is not their country, not their home, it was puzzling to see the government spend so much money and effort on renovating the synagogue."

In part, the answer is politics.

Perhaps 16 Egyptian Jews remain in Egypt — six in Cairo and another 10 in Alexandria, mostly in their 70s and 80s, according to community leaders in both cities. The government says it is rescuing their synagogues and cemeteries so Jewish heritage can take its rightful place alongside Egypt's Pharaonic, Coptic and Islamic civilizations.

Image
A group of Jewish tourists listened to Professor Yoram Meital, right, describing the history of the Hannan Synagogue in Cairo.Credit...Sima Diab for The New York Times

"It's a message for Egyptians that we lived in a unique diversity — Jews, Christians, everyone — for millenniums," Khaled El-Anany, Egypt's minister for antiquities and tourism, said in an interview.


For Mr. el-Sisi, though, the good works also cement his foreign alliances. In recent years, Egypt has quietly allied with Israel to carry out secret airstrikes against the Islamic State in Sinai. Mr. el-Sisi's officials were muted in their criticism of President Trump's contentious plan to resolve the Israeli- Palestinian conflict.

Since Mr. Trump came to power in 2016, Mr. el-Sisi has hosted at least 10 delegations of American Jewish leaders at his presidential palace, apparently viewing them as a vehicle to leverage influence in Washington.

Last February, one of those delegations appealed for his help in saving Cairo's Jewish cemetery, which had fallen into a woeful state.

Squatters had encroached on the ninth-century cemetery, building houses and stealing its marble tombstones. Sewage pooled in corners, goats roamed between graves and garbage was piled high in places.

Local criminals used the cemetery as a place to deal drugs or burn the rubber coating from stolen electrical cables, said Magda Haroun, the head of Cairo's half-dozen strong Jewish community.

"It was in a terrible shape," said Ms. Haroun, 67, whose sister's grave lies beneath a squatter's house.

A cleanup started within hours of Mr. el-Sisi's meeting with the American group, she said. It has been continued by A Drop of Milk — an old Jewish welfare organization now dedicated to rescuing Jewish heritage, and composed mostly of Christian and Muslim volunteers.


"We've removed tons and tons of rubbish," she said. "But there's much more to be done."

Image
Last February, a delegation of American Jews appealed for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's help in saving Cairo's Jewish cemetery, which had fallen into a woeful state.Credit...Sima Diab for The New York Times

For many of the Jews who returned to Alexandria last weekend, the Shabbat service at the renovated Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue, an imposing neo-Classical structure that officially reopened in January, was an emotional moment.

A cavernous ark holds dozens of Torah scrolls collected from Alexandria's other synagogues that have been sold to developers. Heavy wooden pews gleam with brass plaques bearing the names of Jewish families since scattered across the world.

Mr. Ismalun, who lives in Switzerland, brought along the kipa he wore as a child for his bar mitzvah in the same synagogue.

"It was very moving," he said.

Yet many could not fail to notice that the news media had been barred from the event, and that not a single Egyptian government official had come along. Many said they felt isolated, and it raised a broader question about whether Mr. el-Sisi will allow ordinary Egyptians access to the synagogue that his government has so lavishly restored.

"The Egyptian attitude is between ambivalent and schizophrenic," said Rabbi Andrew Baker of the American Jewish Committee, who noted that he also attended the reopening of a Cairo synagogue 10 years ago, under President Hosni Mubarak, which took place in similarly veiled conditions.

"The Egyptians appreciate that people have a positive view of this from abroad," Rabbi Baker added. "But now that you have this beautiful synagogue, it's fair to ask what purpose it will serve in the future."


Egypt's unresolved relationship with Israel is undoubtedly a factor. Despite a 1979 peace treaty, the two countries have not normalized relations, and public debate about the subject remains taboo in Cairo. In 2016, an Egyptian lawmaker was expelled from Parliament for inviting the Israeli ambassador to his home for dinner.

Image
The renovation of the Eliyahu Hanavi synagogue in Alexandria was funded by the Egyptian government.Credit...Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Copies of "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion," an anti-Semitic tract, are sold openly by street vendors in Cairo. After a spate of anti-Sisi protests in September, documents circulated on social media that purported to prove an old conspiracy theory that Mr. el-Sisi's mother is secretly Jewish.

At the same time, there are signs of changing attitudes.

Documentaries about the last Egyptian Jews have received a warm reception from young Egyptians eager to know more. And the government authorized an Israeli scholar, Prof. Yoram Meital of Ben Gurion University, to help A Drop of Milk catalog thousands of Jewish scrolls and other relics in Cairo's shuttered synagogues.

Two years ago, that led them to a goatskin parchment in the back of a closet — a handwritten document, dating from 1028, that covers the third part of the Hebrew Bible and is among the oldest copies of the Bible ever found.

"Many people think the final chapter on the Jewish community of Egypt has been written," Mr. Meital said in an interview. "I believe the opposite is true — that its heritage has a future that is beginning now."

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Mr. Meital and Magda Haroun carefully handling the newly rediscovered Hebrew Bible which dates to the year 1028.Credit...Sima Diab for The New York Times

Mr. el-Sisi's outreach has its limits. Jewish leaders want access to a vast register of community records, dating back to 1830 and counting tens of thousands of pages, that catalog births, marriages, deaths and bar mitzvahs.

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But Egyptian officials have sequestered the register inside the national archives and, despite a promise from Mr. el-Sisi, refused to provide any access, ostensibly for national security reasons.

"Those records are our heritage. They're everything about us," said Reginette Schafer, who left Egypt in 1954 and lives in Washington. "And we can't get them out."

For many, the test of Egypt's commitment to celebrating its Jewish heritage may lie in how the renovated synagogues are used: whether they remain huddled behind armed policemen, as is currently the case, or can be opened to ordinary Egyptians as a monument to a part of their culture that is as old as the pyramids.

"That's the real challenge," said Rabbi Baker. "It's the story you're telling about this community, and whether you have faith that Egyptians will see it as something positive. That's my hope."

Mrs. Wolanski, driving around the Cairo district of Heliopolis with her husband and two sons, beamed with delight when she found her old school, St. Clare's, where she had once been taught by Catholic nuns.

Later she posed for a photo outside a nearby synagogue where her father prayed, as armed policemen looked on.

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But she couldn't find rue du Metro, or her old apartment. She would save it for next time, she said, "when I come back with my grandchildren."

Declan Walsh reported from Cairo, and Ronen Bergman from Tel Aviv.

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The Wolanski family hired a tour guide and van to search for Mrs. Wolanski's childhood home, synagogue and school.Credit...Sima Diab for The New York Times

Declan Walsh is the Cairo bureau chief, covering Egypt and the Middle East. He joined The Times in 2011 as Pakistan bureau chief, and previously worked at The Guardian. @declanwalsh

Ronen Bergman is a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, based in Tel Aviv. His latest book is "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations," published by Random House. 

A version of this article appears in print on , Section A, Page 13 of the New York edition with the headline: For Exiled Egyptian Jews, a Homecoming and an Unlikely Welcome . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe

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