Take a Tour of the Menasha Cemetery

Walk through one of the few surviving Jewish cemeteries in Egypt

The Menasha Family

This family cemetery is situated in southeast Cairo in an area known as Basatin. Since the 9th Century CE, the Jewish people of Egypt were buried in the large cemetery, as well as smaller family graveyards, like this one.    

The original area of the Basatin cemetery was divided into designated areas for the Rabbinic and Karaite Jews. However, this site, belonging to the Menasha family, and the neighboring graveyard, that of the Leishaa family, are the only remaining part of the Karaite graveyard.  

Recently, the American Research Center in Cairo completed the cleaning and restoration of the Menasha and Leishaa graveyards. The project as conducted in collaboration with the Drop of Milk Association and funded by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation.

The plot was neglected for many years and local people used the space to store and sort garbage, although they moved out of the area before the conservation began. A large part of the project as to remove the debris and the abandoned structures.

The Mausoleum

This domed structure protects two graves, while a third family member was buried next to it.

It includes a decorative iron gate and panels inscribed in both Arabic and Hebrew.

This grave is also inscribed in both Hebrew and Arabic, showing the cultural mix of Jewish and Middle Eastern influences on the identity of the Karaite Jews in Egypt.

Inside, the two marble tombstones are flanked by classical columns. Jews are commonly buried on an east-west orientation, symbolically facing Jerusalem.

The Prayer Room

This was a place for the family to gather when they visited the plot. The roof was at risk of collapse and several interventions such as ceiling refurbishment and support, roof installation, and isolation were done to avoid future collapse.

This unique site is part of a busy, vibrant area of modern Cairo. It will soon be open tourist who want to discover more about the Jewish heritage of Egypt.

Discover More:

Credits: Story

This project was conducted by the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) in collaboration with the Drop of Milk Association and funded by the U.S. Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation (AFCP).

Story created by Tessa Litecky, ARCE
Learn more about ARCE at arce.org

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
Explore more
Google apps