Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Riches to Rags: Egypt's Last Exodus

Barbara Bensoussan

The hundreds of Jews who still remained in Egypt in June 1967 were rounded up, forced into prison camps, and subjected to years of torture and abuse. The Jews of Egypt, who just a generation earlier lived in wealth and opulence, suddenly found themselves penniless refugees. Their cataclysmic fall from grace left an entire generation scarred from the impact.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Rabbi Albert Gabbai, the rav of Congregation Mikveh Israel in Philadelphia, cuts a distinguished figure with his neatly trimmed gray beard and dark suit. Visitors to this historic synagogue treat him with great deference and respect, and he answers their questions with patience and elegance. Behind his office desk, the accidental tourist may notice framed photographs that depict him with Rav Mordechai Eliyahu, ztz”l, and, l'havdil, then-First Lady Hilary Clinton.

But this same man was once, just over forty years ago, abruptly arrested and thrown into prison — no warrant, no charges, and no trial. His crime? Simply being a Jewish male in Egypt in 1967. After three years of enduring the most horrific treatment, Rabbi Albert Gabbai was just as abruptly released, bundled onto a plane, and told to get out of the country — and stay out.

An aberration? A unique experience? Unfortunately not. Close to 500 Jewish men and boys were rounded up in Egypt in June of 1967, forced into the prison camps of Abu Zaabal and Tura, and there subjected to years of torture and abuse.

All of us know about the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, but not all are aware of the expulsions of Egyptian Jews in 1956 and 1967, when Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser confiscated Jewish businesses, stripped Jews of their citizenship, and forced them to flee the country penniless. In contradistinction to our Biblical ancestors, who were enslaved but left with great riches, the modern Jews of Egypt greatly enjoyed riches in Egypt, then left stripped of everything they had. Instead of wandering in the desert, these suddenly destitute families wandered across France, Spain, and Italy, often moving on to Israel or the US.

 

To read the rest of this story, please buy this issue of Mishpacha or sign up for a weekly subscription.

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
Whose State Is It?
Rabbi Moshe Grylak The Nation-State Bill adds nothing to the simple truth
First, Clean Your Room
Yonoson Rosenblum Disorder of our rooms reflects the disorder of our minds
Start Up with G-d
Eytan Kobre “Women rabbis” suffocate the spirit of the law
The Non-Competitive Competitors
Rabbi Avrohom Weinrib Competition? We are all working for the same Boss!
In Defense of Those Eltere Bochurim
“Still Waiting” (an anonymous contributor) A perspective built on 12 years (and counting) of dating
No Size Fits All
Jacob L. Freedman Meir’s success seemed practically carved out for him
Endnote - Start with the Heart
Riki Goldstein “I start with the heart of the sound, then add layers”
Great Shakes
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman Hashem has His ways of pressing our “reset” button
Of Gates and Gators
Faigy Peritzman Our ears can receive messages the most easily
I Don’t Know
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Get around decision paralysis by listening to your gut
Time to Try the Frum Dating Sites?
Sara Eisemann That’s my problem and I’ll have to work it through