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December 23, 1977 - Image 6

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1977-12-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

6 Friday, December 23, 1977 THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Two Synagogue Visits Overwhelm Israeli. Delegation, Egyptians


There, were scenes of in-
tense public excitement as
the Israeli delegation to the



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sites of Jewish and general
interest Sunday in this an-
cient Mediterranean city,
now a bustling metropolis of
close to three million.
Throngs of Alexandrians,
many of them school chil-
dren on their way home at
mid-day, gathered on pave-



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ments and behind police
barriers to chant, clap,
wave and sing as the Isrelis
drove past. One high point
was when Eliahu Ben-Elis-
sar, chief of the Israeli
negotiating team, emerged
from the Jewish old age
home and 'strode towards,.
the crowds with his arms
upraised in greeting. The
roar became deafening.
The power of an enthused
mass of people is of course
overwhelming. Could this
widespread, spontaneous
outpouring for peace be re-
versed, if the political lead-
ership so desired, and chan-
neled into another, much
more ominous direction?
Many reporters here
thought these thoughts out
loud. Ben-Elissar and his
fellow negotiators, main-
tained their fixed smiles
and kept their thoughts. to
The well-worn, syncho-
pated chant's were not the
only ones to be heard on
the aesthetically pleasing,
French Mediterranean-style
streets of downtown Alexan-
dria. Many of the children
and their parents shouted
"Begin-Sadat" and "Sha-
Nor could there be any
doubt of the spontaneity of
their reactions. Often pedes-
trians did not immediately
grasp who the bearded up-
right figure was who had
whisked by in a black lim-
ousine. Their reaction .
momentarily delayed, they
had to make do with
waving and cheering at the
two busloads of newsmen
who brought up the rear of
the entourage:
Welcomed at the im-
posing City Hall by the
Governor . of Alexandria,
Abd El-Tuab Hodeat, Ben-
Elissar suggested that this
city sign a "twin city"

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Ben-Elissar (right) and an
Egyptian official tour Ale-
agreement with .a town in
Israel. "Every Israeli town
would be pleased at such an
honor," he said.
(Mayor Shlomo Lehat of
Tel Aviv proposed that his
city and Alexandria be de-
clared twin cities.)
Ben-Elissar noted, too,
that Alexandria had a spe-
cial place in Jewish history
as the home "for many,
many, may years of a most
glorious Jewish commu-
nity." He mentioned that
the "Septuagint" had been
translated in Alexandria at
the zenith of its Jewish com-
munal and cultural fame.
Another stop was the Cen-
tral Synagogue, and many
of the congregation's 100-
odd members were on hand
to greet the Israeli party,
among them an 85-year-old
rabbi who was born in Dam-
ascus. Several of the older
men said they had moved
from Palestine to Egypt
during the World War I pe-
The building itself, set in
its own courtyard, is large
and impressive and seems
in a good state of repair. It
holds regular' services on
Sabbaths and festivals. Re-
porters noted that, unlike
the congregants of the Cairo
synagogue, most of the con-
gregants here appeared
well-dressed and comfort-
ably off. Some spoke of rela-
tive in Israel, but indicated
that they were not free to
visit— them—and return to
Egypt which is what many
of them would apparently
like to do.
At a Jewish old age home,
run by the community, Ben-
Elissar and his aides were
blessed by the old people in
a traditional "NE Shebe-
rach" (who He blessed)
prayer and they joined with
'them in singing "Ein Kelo-
kenu" (there is none like
our God).
After spending the early
afternoon driving through
the city the delegation and
reporters motored back to
Cairo some 200 kilometers
away. On the press buses,

the drivers, already ac-
quainted with Israeli ways,
switched on the radios each
hour on the hour for- Kol
Yisrael newscasts from Je-
In Cairo Saturday, thou-
sands of excited Egyptians
shouting "Begin Shalom,
Sadat Salaam" greeted the
Israeli delegation to the
Cairo peace conference as
they arrived for prayers at
the city's central syna-
gogue, the Shaar Shamayim
Synagogue on Adly St.
c It was the first time that
the Israeli negotiators had
made a pulpit appearance.
The cheering and ap-
plause on Adly St. broke out
as soon as Ben-Elissar,
Meir Rosenne and .Maj.
Gen. Avraham Tamir, ap-
pearing in uniform here for
, the first time, stepped from
their black government lim-
At first, Ben-Elissar
merely waved and turned to
enter the synagogue. But he
suddenly turned round and
crossed to the opposite
pavement where the crowd
was standing about eight
deep. Immediately the hap-
py crowd surged towards
him and after a few mo-
ments Egyptian and Israeli

security men shepherded
him back towards the syna-
There he was welcomed
by the chairman of the Jew-
ish community, 75-year-old
Felix Iscaki. With the
crowds still cheering their
support, the Ispeli delega-
tion walked up the staircase
into the 70-year-old building
past its broad imposing fa-
The scenes inside, al-
though no less emotional,
were tinged with sor
The Egyptian comm
which once numbered
120,000 was represented by
about 50 mostly elderly men
and women, almost a
quarter of the number of
Jews now in all of Egypt.
As communal leaders re-
cited the end of Sabbath
prayers from the "bima,"
cameramen and reporters
swamped the Israelis as
they made their way slowly
to the handsome marble
steps besides the ark.
Meanwhile, on the floor of
the synagogue there were
more touching scenes as the
Egyptian Jews told their
visitors about themselves
and hoped that their , 30
years of isolation from
Israel and the rest of
Jewry is at last ending.


Weizman Visits Egypt

(Continued from Page 1)
Weiztnan gave no details
of his talks in Egypt nor
would he confirm reports
that he had brought with
him detailed options for an
Israeli-Egyptian security
agreement in Sinai com-
plete with maps. He was
accompanied on his trip by
two senior army officers,
Gen. Shlorno Gazit, chief of
intelligence, and Gen. Herzl
Shafir, commander of the
southern front, as well as
his military aide,' Col. Ilan
Weizman did confirm ear-
lier reports that he had ex-
pected his trip to Egypt to
remain secret but it was
announced by the Egyp-
tians. Begin, who returned
from the U.S. Tuesday
night, also expressed sur-
prise that the media knew
of Weizman's trip. Before
leaving Egypt, the defense
minister met at Cairo Air-
port with Eliahu Ben-Elis-
sar, head of the Israeli dele-
gation to the Cairo
Conference and another de-
legation member, Gen. Av-
raham Tamir.
He said.. that he met with
Sadat, at the president's
request, immediately upon
his arrival in Egypt and
that the Egyptian leader
wished him success. "This
morning I came to see him
to bid him farewell before


my departure," Weizman
said. He said Egyptian Vice
President Hosni Moubarak
and Gen. Gamassy were
both present. An Israeli
(Continued on Page '7)

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