Port Said

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Mediterranean port in Egypt.

Port Saʿid (Bur Saʿid), Egypt, situated on a narrow peninsula on the Mediterranean Sea coast, is located on the west side and at the northern end of the Suez Canal, which links the Mediterranean and Red Sea. Established in conjunction with canal construction in 1859, it was named for Saʿid Pasha, viceroy of Egypt (18541863). Built in nineteenth-century European architectural style to accommodate Europeans working on Ferdinand de Lesseps's Suez Canal Project (18591869), it is complemented by a twin city, Port Fouad, located on the eastern side of the canal. The harbor became a maritime fueling station with export industries (especially chemical, tobacco, cotton, and food processing) supplementing sardine fishing and the production of salt from evaporated seawater. In 1904 a railroad link was completed between Port Saʿid and Cairo. As a major trade and business center, Port Saʿid thrived through both world wars. In July 1956 Egypt nationalized the canal after it had been an international waterway for nearly eighty-seven years. The port was strategic during the ArabIsrael wars and was attacked by Israeli forces in 1967 and 1973. The harbor was closed from 1967 to 1975, and most inhabitants evacuated the city. Egypt regained Port Saʿid in 1973, instituted major residential and commercial reconstruction, and established a tax-free industrial zone. Tourism was encouraged, and the city became an important summer resort. In 2003 Port Saʿid was the nation's fourth largest city, with 565,000 inhabitants, and second only to Alexandria as a commercial port.

see also saʿid pasha; suez canal.


Modelski, Sylvia. Port Saʿid Revisited. Washington, DC: Faros, 2000.

david waldner
updated by charles c. kolb

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PORT SAID , city N.E. of *Cairo on the Mediterranean, at the entrance to the Suez Canal. With the construction of the Port Said harbor in 1856 Jews began to settle there. The Anglo-Jewish traveler S. Samuel found about 20 families (70 souls) in the town in 1879, earning their livelihood as tailors, retail traders, and money lenders. The community in Port Said prospered after the building of the Suez Canal. In 1882 there was a blood libel against the Jews of Port Said, but the local governor protected them. In April 1892 there again was a blood libel which resulted in the death of a Jewish merchant and an attack on the synagogue. Some Jews then left the city. Nevertheless, the census of 1897 showed that the Jewish population had increased to 400 (out of a total of 42,972 inhabitants). In 1901, 1903, and 1930, there were further blood libels. The community was organized at the end of the 19th century and obtained the patronage of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1890 the members of the local Jewish court of law were R. Joseph Buskila, Rabbi Bechor Abraham Bitran and the shoḥet Jacob Aaron Luria. At the beginning of the 20th century an Ashkenazi woman had a pub in the city. In 1901 the rabbis of Cairo traveled to Port Said and published there their new regulation on kiddushin. In the same year seven children from Port Said studied at the Alliance Israélite Universelle school in Jerusalem. The community was subordinate to the Jewish court of law in *Alexandria. The census of 1907 found 378 Jews in Port Said; the majority were of *Aden and Yemenite origin and a minority of Egyptian origin, Ashkenazi and Sephardi Jews. In 1917 594 Jews lived in the city. During World War i, the Jewish population temporarily increased. At that time, there were also some Zionist activities in the town. During the 1920s, the community had two synagogues and a school built by the Binyan family of Aden. It closed down in the 1930s. In 1927 there were 1,009 Jews in Port Said; in 1937 they numbered 767 and in 1947, 864. The rabbi of the community in 1918–35 was Nissim Benjamin Ohana, who was born in Algeria (died in Haifa in 1966). He published a responsa collection called Na'eh Eshiv (published in Jerusalem; 1958) and a halakhic book about sheḥitah, Ze Torat Ha-Zevaḥ (published in Jerusalem in 1959). In 1956 the number of Jews in the town was estimated at 300, most of whom were compelled to leave as a result of the Suez campaign in 1956. In 1960 only six Jews lived in Port Said. In 2005 there were no Jews in Port Said.

add. bibliography:

J.M. Landau, Jews in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (1969), index.; S. DellaPergola, in: J.M. Landau (ed.), Toledot ha-Yehudim be-Miẓraim ba-Tekufah ha-Otmanit (1988), 41; L. Bornstein-Makovetsky, in: ibid., 143, 152, 166; J. Hassoun, in: ibid., 567; Z. Zohar, in: ibid., 592, 600–801; A. Rodrigue, Ḥinukh, Ḥevrah ve-Historiyah (1991), 156; Z. Zohar, in: Pe'amim, 86–87 (2001), 109.

[Haim J. Cohen /

Leah Bornstein-Makovetsky (2nd ed.)]

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Port Said (Bur Sa'id) City and seaport in ne Egypt, at the entrance to the Suez Canal. Founded in 1859 with the start of the construction of the Suez Canal, it was a major coal-bunkering station. By the end of the 19th century it was Egypt's chief port after Alexandria. Although its harbour closed to shipping in 1967, after the war with Israel, it remained a fuelling station for ships using the canal. It reopened in 1974. Industries: fishing, tobacco, cotton, textiles. Pop. (1996) 469,533.

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