- Expulsion From Egypt

In 1956, Gamal Abd Al-Nasser becomes president of Egypt. He believes that all foreign assets should belong to the state, and begins to seize banks, factories and stores. A vehement anti-Zionist, Nasser uses this policy to punish the Jews, making all Jewish businesses property of the Egyptian government. Hundreds of Egyptian Jews are jailed, and 20,000 Jews are expelled from the country with 7 days notice. They are allowed to take only pocket money and a suit of clothes.

The rabbis at Yeshivat Ahaba Ve Ahva in Cairo send word to Rabbi Avraham Kalmanowitz in Brooklyn that they are afraid for their students’ safety. Between 1956 and September 1957, Rabbi Kalmanowitz rescues 39 Sephardic boys from Syria, Egypt and Morocco, bringing them to study at Mirrer Yeshiva in Brooklyn.

“My age was 16-and-a-half years old and I was approached to come to Mirrer Yeshiva while I was working in Egypt, and I was a volunteer at the rabbinate in Cairo, helping out Jewish people to emigrate and to leave Egypt as fast as possible. The government decided to go after the boys that were doing this work. I was arrested and they told me I needed to sign a paper that I’m a spy for Israel, otherwise have interrogation, beating with bamboo sticks on my feet, et cetera. I refused to sign it, and I was evicted from the country, and I was sent out on a stateless passport, which is the water, the oceans, is my country. I had no country left. And at the same time, they gave me a document called laissez-passer, and it was stamped on it, ‘Dangerous for the public security.’ Rabbi Kalmanowitz helped me, for sure. I consider him an angel, a saving angel. “ – Clement Soffer, Episode 6

(Image of Rabbi Kalmanowitz (center) with a group of rescued Sephardic students.)

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