Magnificent masterpiece reveals the Secrets of the Islamic Decorations That Embrace the Star of David in Historical Christian church named Ben Ezra Synagogue.
A glorious architectural masterpiece with Roman basilica style, it is the layout that prevailed in most of the historical Christian churches of Egypt; however, you will find the Star of David is in the middle of the ceiling, the bima, or the Jewish pulpit where the prayers are read, stands in the middle, and the holiest element of the Jewish temple appears with dazzling decorations, to find the Ten Commandments are written in the Hebrew language. All of that amid decorations that seem like the Turkish Islamic decoration in the Ottoman era, as star patterns, pentagonal patterns, and rectangles. Welcome to the suspense tour inside the Ben Ezra Synagogue.
Wow, sure there is a story behind the wonderful Islamic masterpieces that you will see in this Synagogue, which represented by a (chandelier) hanging to the right of the structure engraved in the Arabic language, in addition to another copper (chandelier) hanging from the ceiling in a conical shape, and bears the name of the Mamluk Sultan Qalawun.
Ben Ezra Synagogue is the unique designs that will raise your questions and charm you to find yourself enter this charming masterpiece, walking in the same footsteps of the Jewish sects that lived in Egypt, to be in the embrace of the secrets of the Jewish community in Egypt, while this confusing designs around you.
Ben Ezra Synagogue is where the Iraqi Jews, namely the Qaraite Jews, the Levantine Jews, the Ashkenazim, and the Sephardim, worshiped and taught the Jewish religion and ended up as a temple for the rabbinic Jews after the movement of the Qaraite Jews to Cairo in the Fatimid era and they who spoke Arabic As their native language. All of that was the secret behind the 140,000 scraps of book paper that were be found inside the Synagogue, giving important details about the economic, social, and religious history not only of the Jewish community in Egypt but also medieval Jewry in the whole world.
While you will be in these dazzling architectural designs, your feet will be placed in wonderful Jewish beliefs, as the Jews tell that this spot is the place where the box of Baby Moses was found and that where the Prophet Moses pray after the plague hit the country, and other stories tell that the Prophet Elijah (Eliyahu) had appeared to the worshipers there more than once and that the synagogue contained the remains of the Prophet Jeremiah, as it is believed that this spot where the Prophet Jeremiah gathered the Jews in the 6th century after Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the Jerusalem temple.
The Story Behind The Design Of Ben Ezra Synagogue
While you are in the sea of these beliefs and other facts, these Christian designs will occupy your mind, but the explanation is that Ben Ezra Synagogue originally was a church called the Shamaaen Church, and the Copts had to sell it to the Jews community, in 882A.D in order to pay the annual taxes that have been accrued during the reign of Ahmed Ibn Tulun. So, Abraham Ben Ezra, who came from Jerusalem, bought the church with 20,000 dinars.
Then, what is the exact design of the Synagogue
Ben Ezra Synagogue was built in the basilica style, and it consists of a hall divided into three sections, the widest and the highest of which is the middle section topped by a sistrum, and the holiest element of the Jewish temple is located in the eastern wall that includes the Torah wheel, which is of wood inlaid with seashell and ivory fillings, and the Jewish bima is located in the center of the temple, and it is of marble and ascends to it in several degrees where the prayer is administered.
As for the upper floor, it is devoted to women’s prayer, and the hall overlooks a balcony at its end on the north side. There is the Geniza room that contributed to the fame of this temple, and it is a closed room on all sides except the top where books and papers were stored inside for a long time until it was discovered and transferred in 1896 AD to the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.
As for the marble columns intersecting the central wing, they are decorated with beautifully carved capitals, while the decorative motifs of this temple reflect the art that we find in Egypt with its many influences and metaphors, whether from ancient, Byzantine, or even Islamic times.
As for the two chandeliers, they were given by the Mamluk Sultan, Qalawun bin Abdullah Al-Alfi Al-Salih, who ruled Egypt during the period from (678 – 689 AH) corresponding to (1280 – 1290 AD), which confirms Egypt’s embrace throughout its history of all religions.