Among the largest synagogues in the Middle East, this magnificent Italian-built structure served Alexandria’s once-thriving and cosmopolitan Jewish community. The interior features immense marble columns and space for more than 700 people, with brass name plates still affixed to the regular seats of male worshippers. Since the wars with Israel and the 1956 Suez Crisis, the community has dwindled and rarely musters the 10 men necessary to hold a service. At the time of research, the building was awaiting renovation.
The synagogue was closed in 2012 because of security reasons. Visits to this moving reminder of the city’s multicultural past must be arranged through Ben Youssef Gaon, president of the local Jewish community and, aged in his late 50s, among its youngest current members. Call Ben Youssef's mobile; if you can’t make contact this way, try asking at the front gate. A donation of LE20 to LE30 is appreciated but not required.