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



prepared by her sister Glorice

Carmen Weinstein
photo by Samir W Raafat

Carmen was born on 10 October 1931 and was immediately the delight of her parents, both Egyptian nationals. They took great interest in Carmen's education who completed her primary schooling at the French Lycee at Bab El Louk before joining Alvernia English School in Zamalek where she obtained her GCE. Thereafter she moved to Cairo University graduating with a BSc in English Literature. She spoke perfect Arabic, French and English.

Maurice Weinstein, Carmen's father, owned a first class print shop (on Cherif Pasha Street) renowned for its superior quality. Unfortunately he died in February 1953 following a protracted illness. Carmen, 22, took over the shop and with the help of her mother ran it diligently for the next fifty years. Despite her heavy responsibilities Carmen found time to obtain an MSc in literature from the American University in Cairo (AUC) earning a prize for a play she wrote and produced for the university’s theatre group.

Later Carmen dedicated her spare time to the rehabilitation and safeguard of what remained of the Jewish Cemetery in Bassatine. With the help of ex-Egyptian Jews settled in France she was able to fence it thereby protecting it from rampant vandalism. In her romance novel, Tobie Nathan refers to Carmen as an "Advocate of the departed".

With time and against all odds Carmen re-organized the cemetery earmarking a number of tombs simultaneous to planting trees so that up to her last days she continued her mission of protecting this historic landmark. And despite limited means she kept planting bougainvillea’s in an attempt to restore some of Bassatine's former glory.

Over the last two decades Carmen was vice president and later president of the Jewish Community Council of Cairo (JCC) looking after the dwindling community as best as she could under the circumstances. She made sure needy members were provided for and made a point of celebrating High and other holidays either at the Adly Synagogue in downtown Cairo or at Maadi's Meyr Biton Temple. The highlight was the celebration of Shaar Hashamayim's centennial followed a few years later in 2010 with the restoration of Maimonides in Haret al-Yahoud (Jewish Quarter) with a becoming inaugural ceremony.

Her last public activity was presiding over Pessah on 25 March 2013.

Biographie de Carmen Weinstein

Carmen Weinstein
photo by Samir W Raafat

Carmen Weinstein est née le 10 octobre l931 à la grande joie de ses parents, tous deux de nationalité égyptienne. Ils attachaient une grande importance aux études et Carmen accomplit sa scolarité primaire au lycée français de Bab el Louk et sa scolarité secondaire à l’Alvernia english school à Zamalek. Elle poursuivit ensuite des études brillantes en Faculté de Lettres à l’Université du Caire et obtient sa licence en lettres, section anglaise. Elle parlait parfaitement l’arabe, l’anglais et le français.

Maurice Weinstein, son père possédait une imprimerie papeterie très réputée pour la qualité de ses prestations. En février 1953, il meurt prématurément à la suite d’une longue maladie. Carmen, âgée de 22 ans, reprend courageusement la direction de l’imprimerie papeterie aidée par sa mère. Malgré cette lourde charge, elle trouve le temps d’obtenir son master en littérature à l’université américaine du Caire (A.U.C) : un prix lui est également décerné pour l’écriture d’une pièce de théâtre.

Elle se consacre ensuite à la sauvegarde du cimetière de Bassatine, à la restauration des tombes. Dans son livre ethno roman Tobie Nathan la cite comme « l’avocate des morts ». Grace à ses efforts et à l’aide que lui ont apporté les Juifs Français d’origine égyptienne elle a pu faire entourer le cimetière par un mur. Elle s’en est occupée inlassablement jusqu’à ses derniers jours l’ornant de belles plantes de bougainvilliers.

Par la suite elle devint vice présidente et présidente de la Communauté Juive d’Egypte consacrant l’essentiel de son temps au bien être des membres de la Communauté, organisant de belles fêtes, notamment le centenaire de la synagogue Shaar ha shamayim et la dédicace en mars 2010 de la synagogue de Rab Maimonide. La dernière fête qu’elle a animé est Pessah.

Carmen Weinstein
Carmen Weinstein's ID


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