The Maimonides synagogue is a historic synagogue located in Cairo. It's also known as the Rav Moshe synagogue and was named after the famous Jewish philosopher, rabbi and physician Maimonides. There has been a synagogue on the site since the 10th century and Maimonides arrived at the site in around 1168.
Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, also known as the Rambam and his family were exiled from Cordoba, Spain in 1148. They spent ten years in Southern Spain before traveling to Morocco, and then finally settling in Egypt.
He was best known by his Greek name, Maimonides. Maimonides gained widespread recognition throughout Egypt. Shortly after arriving he became court physician to Qadi al-Fadil, who was the Grand Vizier to Saladin. Saladin was a Sunni Muslim Kurd and was the first sultan of Egypt and Syria.
He completed his studies and work in a yeshiva. A yeshiva is a Jewish educational institute that focuses on the study of traditional religious texts, such as the Talmud, Torah, and Halacha. Both the synagogue and the yeshiva are located in Harat al-Yahud, in the Jewish quarter of mediaeval Cairo.
Maimonides died in Fustat on December 12, 1204. He is believed to have been buried for a short time at the synagogue. He was then transferred to his final resting place in Tiberias, on the sea of Galilee in Israel. His bones were placed in a small shrine for a week. Some believe that his bones never left Egypt and they remain here until this day.
In the 20th century many Jews left Egypt due to the tensions between them and the Arabs. The synagogue almost collapsed when it was hit by earthquakes and flooding waters. It was closed and was then left to crumble in 1960.
In June 2009, the Head of Antiquities, Dr Zahi Hawass began a restoration project that would last for 18 months. The 600-square-meter complex was completely restored. It includes Maimonides tomb, and contains two areas for prayer and rituals, one of which has a section just for women.
The Jewish community of Cairo organized a ceremony for the reopening of the synagogue that included a dedication to Maimonides, whose tomb remains there.
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