As Jews across the world ready to celebrate the Exodus from Egypt, the Israeli government on Monday announced it had sent matzahs and other essential Passover items to the tiny Jewish community in Egypt.
In a “complex operation,” Israel’s Embassy in Cairo and Jewish organizations managed to get boxes of kosher for Passover food to the Jewish communities in Cairo and Alexandria, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
“Even in the difficult reality created by the worldwide coronavirus crisis, we are not forgetting our brothers in the small Jewish community of Egypt,” Foreign Minister Israel Katz said.
“And I am happy that we could help them celebrate Passover this year according to religious law. The ties with Jewish communities around the world is a central aspect of Israeli diplomacy, and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its missions across the globe,” he added.
Egypt’s Jewish community, which dates back millennia, numbered around 80,000 in the 1940s, but today stands at fewer than 20 people.
The departure of Egypt’s Jews was fueled by rising nationalist sentiment after Israel’s founding in 1948 and during the Arab-Israeli wars, harassment, and some direct expulsions by then-Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Egypt and Israel signed a landmark peace treaty in 1979 and have since maintained formal diplomatic relations. But public opinion in Egypt has largely remained hostile to the Jewish state.
In February, over 180 Jews from across the Egyptian diaspora gathered in Alexandria in the largest Jewish prayer service in decades to rededicate their newly renovated forefathers’ synagogue in the Mediterranean port city.