United States Preserves Egyptian History at Bassatine

November 20, 2022

United States Preserves Egyptian History at Bassatine
U.S. Embassy and Partners Restore Historic Karaite Jewish Cemetery

Cairo – The U.S. Embassy in Cairo, in partnership with the American Center for Research in Egypt (ARCE) and representatives of American and Egyptian Jewish organizations, today opened the newly restored burial sites of Lichaa and Menasha in Cairo, the only remaining part of Karaite Jewish Egypt. cemetery (the Bassatine Cemetery) and one of the oldest operational Jewish cemeteries in the world. As part of the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the U.S. Department of State awarded a grant of $150,000 (approximately 2.25 million Egyptian pounds) to ARCE and its partner, the Drop of Milk Foundation, to finance the restoration of the cemetery. A private donation from the Karaite Jews of America provided additional amenities and landscaping for a memorial garden – the Garden of Remembrance – at the site.

At the inauguration ceremony, Acting U.S. Charge d’Affaires Ambassador Daniel Rubinstein underlined U.S. commitment to preserving the memory of the central role the Jewish community has played in Egyptian history : “[T]he Bassatine cemetery has served the Jewish community of Egypt since its creation in 1482 by the Mamluk sultan al-Ashraf Qaitbey. The U.S. government will remain Egypt’s committed partner in the preservation, restoration, and protection of Egypt’s treasured cultural and religious sites, such as the Lichaa and Menasha burial sites, which contribute to the richness and diversity of Egyptian history.

Ambassador Rubinstein was joined at the event by David Ovadia, President of the Karaite Jews of America, Dr. Louise Bertini, Executive Director of ARCE, Magda Haroun, Leader of the Jewish Community of Cairo, and Eli Eltachan , president of the Karaite community, as well as other esteemed guests and VIPs.

Over the past 25 years, the US government has contributed more than $100 million (approximately 2.4 billion Egyptian pounds) to preserve World Heritage sites in Egypt, such as the Sphinx of Giza, the Temple of Kom Ombo in Aswan, the mausoleum of Imam al-Shafi’i in Cairo and the catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa in Alexandria. More recently, the United States funded the restoration of the Howard Carter House in Luxor and announced a partnership with Factum to develop a virtual reality (VR) experience of King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber for Egyptian school children.

To learn more about the US-Egyptian cultural partnership, visit: https://eg.usembassy.gov and https://www.usaid.gov/egypt and follow @USEmbassyCairo and @USAIDEgypt on social media.

To learn more about the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, including opportunities to submit proposals, visit: https://eg.usembassy.gov/education-culture/afcp/


James C. Tibbs