Photo © Israel Museum, Jerusalem, by Elie Posner
Inscription from Torah ark in the Ben Ezra Synagogue
Fustat (Old Cairo), Egypt
Wood, carved
Inscribed in Hebrew: “Our teacher and mentor Rabbi Solomon, who was snatched away at an early age, may the spirit of God grant him rest, and a brother’s heart will be comforted”
Gift of Jakob Michael, New York, in memory of his wife, Erna Sondheimer Michael
Accession number: B64.12.4273 ; 194/005
This medieval inscription was part of the Torah ark of the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat; other fragments are preserved at the Louvre in Paris, as well as in Cairo. The people mentioned in the inscriptions, including R. Solomon, belonged to the eminent al-Amshati family – merchants, scholars, and leaders of the Egyptian community.
The origins of the Ben Ezra synagogue go back to the 7th century, and it is thought that Maimonides prayed there. In its attic was the famous Cairo Genizah, a treasure trove of thousand of Jewish documents that were revealed in the late 19th century.

Digital presentation of this object was made possible by: The Ridgefield Foundation, New York, in memory of Henry J. and Erna D. Leir