Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Egypt – XV. Societal Context (4 of 4)

Haret el Yahud, or La Hara as it was affectionately called, was the Jewish Ghetto in Cairo. It is an important feature of Cairene Jewish society and merits some elaboration.

Under the Ottoman rule, Jews resided in an area reserved for them; it was situated in the Muski District in the Gamaliyeh Quarters. La Hara was no Jewish Ghetto as the term was understood in Europe; it offered its inhabitants protection, and allowed them to practice their religious and cultural rituals undisturbed.

By the mid-19th century, Jews began to leave La Hara for nicer districts. After World War I, the middle-class migrated to other areas of Cairo; for example, El Sakakini (where we lived).

By the time I came of age, only the poorest Jews resided there. If you lived in La Hara, you didn’t announce it to the rest of the world!

La Hara was (and still is) a maze of alleyways; street names and house numbers are a rarity.

Deep in the heart of the old Jewish Quarter is the Synagogue where Maimonides (according to legend) taught his disciples in a basement room.

Maimonides (also known as Harambam or simply the Rambam) was a great Rabbi, philosopher, and healer. 800 years after his death, he “comes” to his sanctuary to heal people who sleep there, and solicit his help. A Lourdes of sort.

It is rumored that King Fuad slept there to heal after an assassination attempt.

An Egyptian actress, Leila Murad, was filming the final scene in the “Lady of the Camellias.” She was placed in a coffin with candles and flowers all around her. The scene gave her a bad scare and she became ill. She also slept there hoping to get better.

While I was preparing for my grade 13 exams, I had a breakdown of sort. I also went to sleep there.

I don’t know if Maimonides managed to cure a King and a well-known actress; I know that in my case, he couldn’t help. I eventually got better on my own, passed my exams, and got the high marks I needed to be admitted to university.


1) The Jews in modern Egypt, 1914 – 1952
Gudrun Kramer

2) Opinion Journal
From The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page
Houses of Worship
A Jewish Lourdes Revisited
Lucette Lagnado
June 10, 2005

Comments are closed.