BASSATINE NEWS  the ONLY Jewish newsletter reporting directly from Egypt
A Community Chronicle put out by the Jewish Community Council (JCC) of Cairo since 1995





* Mrs. Esther Weinstein, President

* Mr. Jacques Mosseri, Vice President
* Mr. Robert Nahman, Teasurer / Secretary
* Ms. Carmen Weinstein, Public Relations

* Dr. Victor Bromberg, Member
* Mr. Samy Maleh, Member
* Mrs. Sarine Bromberg, Member
* Mrs. Jeanette Mosseri, Member
* Mrs. Rosette Usilly, Member

In view of recent developments, Bassatine News felt it necessary to produce this special issue to update you with the events of Cairo's Jewish community during the week August 19-24, 1996. Since it has been partly reported in The Egyptian Gazette we insert the story as it appeared. (see box). The original statutes governing the communal council are based on those of Paris dated 1789. According to a circular letter signed by Carmen Weinstein dated Cairo, August 24, 1996, the new board of the Cairo Jewish Community Council of Cairo reflects the age and gender composition of the community as it stands today. The previous president, Mr. Emile Rousseau, had been in office for the last eight years having replaced Mr. Youssef Dana. Bassatine News takes this opportunity to thank Mr. Rousseau and previous board members for their efforts and valuable contributions past and present.

Who is Esther Weinstein?

Anyone who dealt with Imprimerie Weinstein on Cherif Pasha Street will remember Madame Weinstein who, forever alert, stands patiently behind the front office's main counter. If you have time she will tell you about Egypt's belle epoque when pashas, beys, ministers and ambassadors walked into the famous printshop to order their calling cards.  And if you're lucky she'll even show you some of the wedding invitations printed for celebrities.  Born to a Sephardi family whose ancestry can be traced back to Larissa, Greece, Madame Weinstein's father came with his parents to Egypt via Palestine in the third quarter of the 19th century. He was one year old. At first the Chaki family lived in Abbassia, then a posh district of Cairo. When Esther married Maurice Weinstein (1889-1953), an ashkenazi with ancestry in Romania,  the young couple moved to Heliopolis before relocating in the handsome Stilianos Sarpakis building No. 13 on Midan Ismailia (now Tahrir) downton Cairo. Following the death of Monsieur Weinstein it was Esther who took over the family business which she runs to this day with the assistance of her eldest daughter Carmen. Her younger daughter, Glorice, is a psychoanalyst in Geneva, Switzerland.


(photo Samir Raafat)

On August 15, Mr. Robert Ritter, National Executive Director of the Ottawa-based CIC, and Mr. Ben Rowswell of the Canadian Embassy in Cairo, visited Bassatine and toured several of its vaults. Mr. Ritter discussed with Carmen Weinstein venues on how to interest the different Jewish communities in Canada of the plight of Bassatine.


BN announces the death of
Mr. Jacques Jaffe
who passed away on August 19, 1996, a few hours after participating in the election of the new board. Anyone who knows a living relative please E-mail name and address ASAP to the attention of Ms. Carmen Weinstein (see address listed below).

From The Cairo Press


The Egyptian Gazette by Samir Raafat, August 23, 1996


CAIRO - It was reminiscent of a "constitutional coup." The tiny Jewish community, fed up with its present command, decided early this week it was high time for change. At an impromptu meeting of the board held at the Adly Street synagogue - Chaar Hachamaim, the community elders did the unthinkable when they passed a unanimous resolution allowing women on the board of directors for the first time in the history of the 1,000 year old community. Not only that, but they elected Mrs. Ester Weinstein as their new president. Sweeping changes was the order of the day, all of which gained the general assembly approval during a meeting convened the following morning.

The architect of this reform is conservationist-playwright Carmen Weinstein, daughter of the newly elected president and long regarded as a dissident within the community. The Weinsteins, along with the approximately 100 other Egyptian Jews of Cairo, are all that remain from those who chose not to join their brethren who moved to Europe, Americas and Israel in the late 1960s.

Rumblings and warning signs of unrest within the community started several years ago when it was asserted that some of its former presidents had a penchant for running the show single-handed as though it were a private foundation. Muffled accusations of asset-stripping were compounded with cries that artifacts and other Judaica belonging to the abandoned synagogues were 'disposed of' without prior consultation with JCC's board. Accountability was altogether absent, says Weinstein fille. Crucial resolutions were taken without the knowledge of those supposedly in the know.

Carmen Weinstein
Carmen in her younger years and today

"All this will now change," says Carmen Weinstein, who, besides her responsibilities as PR of the community, is the indefatigable curator of the millennium old Jewish cemetery of Bassatine. "The board needed new blood and a strong infusion of vigor. And since the gender gap within the community is 2:1 favoring women, it was only natural that they should have a say in its affairs."

The once thriving Jewish community of Egypt had several pashas and beys for its presidents. Early this century, Cairo's Sephardi board was headed by Moise de Cattaui Pasha (until 1924) whose roots in Egypt went back several hundred years. At one point he was ennobled by the Austrian emperor Franz-Jozef for services rendered to the Austro-Hungarian empire. Another president (1924-46) was Cattaui's nephew, Senator Youssef Aslan Cattaui Pasha, minister of finance in Ahmed Ziwar Pasha's government of 1924.

In 1946, communal leadership slipped out of Cattaui hands and was taken over by Salvatore Cicurel Bey, Egypt's fencing champion at the 1928 Olympic games. He was owner and chief executive of the department store chain that still bears his name today. After Cicurel's resignation in the mid-fities, the communal presidency was headed successively by Maitre Albert Romano, Felix Isckaki and Youssef Dana (1982-88).

The last president of the community was Mr. Emile Rousseau (1988-1996), a former employee of the Banque Belge et Internationale en Egypte. Presently summering overseas, he is unaware of these latest developments. A palace coup was the last thing he expected of his previously docile flock.

As for the new Madam President, she is the proprietor of Weinstein Printers & Stationery on Cherif Pasha Street. Visit its antiquated backroom and you will quickly realize that even though it houses one of Cairo's oldest surviving printshops, it still bustles with animation, just like the dauntless mother and daughter team that run it.


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Issue 17  | Issue 18  | Issue 19  | Issue 20  | Issue 21  | Issue 22  | Issue 23  |
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Issue 32  | Issue 33  | Issue 34  | Issue 35  | Issue 36  | Issue 37  | Issue 38  |

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Jewish Community Council (JCC) of Cairo
# 13 Sabil El Khazindar Street
Midan al-Geish, Abbassia, Cairo

tel: +20 2 2482-4613 - tel/fax +20 2 2736-9639
mobile: 0122 2115915
from outside Egypt call
+20 122 2115915

Shaar Hashamayim Synagogue @ 17 Adly Street, downtown Cairo
open daily 10:00 to 15:00
Friday 10:00 to 17:00
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Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fostat (Old Cairo)
open daily 09:00 to 16:00

For visits to other Cairo synagogues or Bassatine Cemetery contact JCC

The JEWISH COMMUNITY COUNCIL of ALEXANDRIA (JCCA president: Youssef Ben Gaon) can be reached by email at:
and by telephone on +20 3 484-6189 or +20 3 486-3974 or by ordinary mail at
No. 69 Nebi Daniel Street, Alexandria, Egypt

please note the Jewish Community Council of Alexandria is an independent entity separate from the Jewish Community Council of Cairo

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