Another Positive Sign for Jews From the Egyptian Government
Egypt’s National Center for Translation has just released an Arabic translation of the Torah.
To be precise, they converted Rav Saadia Gaon’s 10th century translation of the Torah to Judeo-Arabic into Arabic itself. (Judeo-Arabic is mostly Arabic with Hebrew letters.)
The Egyptian scholars who published the book emphasize that R’ Saadia was born in Egypt (in Fayoum, identified by R’ Saadia himself as the Biblical Pitom), and that his philosophy and translations were heavily influenced by Islam. They even claim that he borrows Quranic texts in some of his translations to Arabic.
They don’t emphasize that R’ Saadia moved to Eretz Yisrael when he was in his teens to study in Tiberias. Yes, he was a Zionist! (He ended up heading a major academy in Babylonia.)
This article is quite positive towards R’ Saadia, and is part of a change in tone in Egyptian media towards Jews in recent months. (This story itself was mentioned in several newspapers.)
I’ve briefly mentioned a new Ramadan TV series called “Jewish Quarter” that looks back nostalgically at when Jews lived in Egypt.
There was another article recently that sadly explained that Egypt’s Jewish community, which numbered 80,000 in 1947, has dwindled down to only seven elderly women.
A recent Egyptian museum lecture was entitled “One God, three religions” and included the Jewish woman who leads the Egyptian community along with prominent Islamic and Coptic leaders.
It seems likely that this new attitude towards Jews is related to President Sisi’s administration.
It takes a while for attitudes to change but, at least with Egyptian media, this change is noticeable.