Sacred Places Tell Tales: Jewish Life and Heritage in Modern Cairo

Apr 15, 2024, 12:00 pm1:20 pm
Free and open to the public



Event Description
Yoram Meital

Yoram Meital is a Professor of Middle East Studies at Ben-Gurion University and a Patricia Crone Member at the School of Historical Studies at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. His publications include Revolutionary Justice: Special Courts and the Formation of Republican Egypt, published by Oxford University Press in 2017, and Peace in Tatters: Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East (2006). Scheduled for release by the University of Pennsylvania Press in July 2024, his forthcoming book titled Sacred Places Tell Tales: Jewish Life and Heritage in Modern Cairo. His current study, “Yiddish in Modern Cairo,” seeks to narrate the untold story of the Egyptian-Jewish Ashkenazi community. This study represents a continuation of his scholarly endeavors in exploring the Living Archive of Jewish life and heritage in the Middle East and North Africa.

During the period spanning from 2017 to 2021, Professor Meital served as a historical consultant to the Jewish community in Cairo. His intensive involvement in documenting and preserving the community’s historical and cultural heritage granted him rare access to abundant data that had been concealed for decades behind the iron gates and heavy wooden doors of Cairo’s ancient and new synagogues. This talk elucidates the principal themes and narratives featured in an upcoming book, a direct outcome of his extensive explorations throughout Cairo’s synagogues. At the heart of the discussion is the notion that the synagogue, typically associated with tradition and stagnation, actually acts as a reflective microcosm delineating the multifaceted strategies deployed by Egyptian Jewry in negotiating the transition towards modernity. Furthermore, it emphasizes how these synagogues evolved into symbolic spaces, mediating the Jewish past to the contemporary Egyptian public and highlighting the various ways it is received.


  • Department of Near Eastern Studies
  • Near Eastern Studies Program