Ben Ezra Synagogue


Just outside the walls of the Coptic enclave, the 9th-century Ben Ezra Synagogue occupies the shell of a 4th-century Christian church. Tradition marks this as the spot where the prophet Jeremiah gathered the Jews in the 6th century after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Jerusalem temple. The adjacent spring is supposed to mark the place where the pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the reeds, and also where Mary drew water to wash Jesus.

In the 12th century the synagogue was restored by Abraham Ben Ezra, rabbi of Jerusalem. In 1890 a cache of more than 250,000 historic papers, known as the Geniza documents, was uncovered in the synagogue. From them, researchers have been able to piece together details of the life of the North African Jewish community from the 11th to 13th centuries.