United States Preserves Egyptian History in Bassatine

November 20, 2022

The United States preserves Egyptian history in Bassatine
The US Embassy and partners are restoring the historic Karaite Jewish Cemetery

Cairo – The US Embassy in Cairo, in partnership with the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE) and representatives from American and Egyptian Jewish organizations, today dedicated the newly restored tombs of Lichaa and Menasha in Cairo – the only remaining part of Egypt’s Karaite Jews cemetery (the Bassatine Cemetery) and one of the oldest working Jewish cemeteries in the world. As part of the US Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, the US Department of State awarded a US$150,000 (approximately 2.25 million Egyptian pounds) grant to ARCE and its partner, the Drop of Milk Foundation, to fund the cemetery’s restoration . A private donation from the Karaite Jews of America provided additional amenities and landscaping for a memorial garden – the Garden of Remembrance – at the site.

At the dedication ceremony, US Executive Secretary and AI Ambassador Daniel Rubinstein underscored the United States’ commitment to preserving the memory of the central role played by the Jewish community in Egyptian history: “[T]he Bassatine Cemetery has served Egypt’s Jewish community since it was established in 1482 by Mamluk Sultan al-Ashraf Qaitbey. The US government will remain Egypt’s committed partner in the preservation, restoration and protection of Egypt’s valuable cultural and religious sites, such as the Lichaa and Menasha tombs, which contribute to the richness and diversity of Egyptian history.”

Ambassador Rubinstein was greeted at the event by David Ovadia, President of the Karaite Jews of America, Dr. Louise Bertini, Executive Director of ARCE, Magda Haroun, Head of the Cairo Jewish Community, and Eli Eltachan, President of the Karaite Community. along with other valued guests and VIPs.

Over the past 25 years, the US government has contributed over US$100 million (about 2.4 billion Egyptian pounds) to the preservation of World Heritage sites in Egypt, including the Sphinx at Giza, the Kom Ombo Temple in Aswan and the Imam al-Shafi’i Mausoleum in Cairo and the Catacombs of Kom El Shoqafa in Alexandria. Most recently, the United States funded the restoration of the Howard Carter House in Luxor and announced a partnership with Factum to develop a virtual reality (VR) experience of King Tutankhamen’s tomb for Egyptian schoolchildren.

To learn more about the US-Egypt cultural partnership, visit: https://eg.usembassy.gov and https://www.usaid.gov/egypt and follow @USEmbassyCairo and @USAIDEgypt on social media.

To learn more about the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, including ways to submit proposals, visit: https://eg.usembassy.gov/education-culture/afcp/