|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|
Columns Article, Tuesday, December 21 08:32; 12 Tevet 5760
By Greer Fay Cashman
(December 21) JUST a little under 20 years ago, when the Israeli Embassy first opened in Egypt, Syrian-born Yossi Hadass, who was No. 2 in Israel's first diplomatic mission to Cairo, had the honor of hoisting the Israeli flag. Earlier this month, Hadass and his wife, Stella, were back in Egypt to celebrate their 45th wedding anniversary.
Since a wedding anniversary is a family affair, they were accompanied by their three sons, daughters-in-law, and seven grandchildren. What made the nostalgia even more poignant was the fact that Israel's sixth and current ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, and his wife, Michelle, were also members of that historic inaugural mission stationed in Cairo.
Needless to say, the Hadass clan and the Mazels got together at the ambassador's residence.
ALSO on a nostalgic journey to Egypt during the Hanukka week were more than 30 reserve officers of the 421st Division of the IDF, which crossed the Suez Canal during the Yom Kippur War. Led by their commander, Haim Erez, they toured former battle sites, paid tribute to fallen comrades, and would have liked to have met some of their Egyptian counterparts - but the Egyptian veterans were none too happy about such a confrontation, so it didn't come off.
But the reserve officers and their wives did boost the attendance and ensure a quorum at the annual Hanukka party at the historic, centuries-old Ben-Ezra synagogue, which is one of the oldest synagogues in the world.
The group, which included Clal CEO Yitzhak Kaul and Yossi Regev, a senior official in the Foreign Ministry, joined Chabad Rabbi Yosef Hecht of Eilat, who, together with other Chabad hassidim, comes each Hanukka to celebrate the festival with Cairo's dwindling Jewish community.
Also present on that occasion were Foreign Ministry Director-General Eytan Bentzur, who was coaxed into a merry dance, and Yoav Biran, the Foreign Ministry's senior deputy director-general responsible for coordinating the peace process and relations with the Arab world.
The latter were in Cairo primarily to meet Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's special adviser, Osama el-Baz, and took the opportunity to join the festivities at the Ben-Ezra synagogue.
THEY weren't the only Foreign Ministry visitors to the land of the Nile. Anxious to soak up as much sunshine as she could before she departs for below-zero climes was Israel's new ambassador to Finland, Myriam Shomrat, who traveled beyond Cairo to balance her impressions of contemporary Egypt with those of the Pharaonic eras.
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