Fifteen American Jewish leaders are scheduled to arrive in Cairo on Feb. 11 for discussions with Egyptian Muslims and Christians following an invitation from the Egyptian government.
The Egyptian ambassador to the U.S., Ashraf A. Ghorbal, extended the invitation to the New York based Synagogue Council of America, a coalition of American Jewish groups, when he addressed them at a Dec. 7 meeting. The details of the Cairo trip were arranged by the Egyptian Embassy staff here this week.
"I welcome this mission of peace on the part of the American Jewish leaders," Ghorbal said in a telephone interview. "Such a dialogue has been overdue for a long time."
Rabbi Henry Siegman, executive director of the Synagogue Council, formally accepted the invitation, saying the purpose of the trip would be to "open a Jewish-Muslim dialogue" on religious matters.
The itinerary includes a welcome by Egyptian President Anwar Sadat Muslim leader Dr. Abdel-Halim Mahamoud, and Pope Shenouda of the Coptic Church of Alexandria.
The interfaith discussions will take place at Cairo's Center of Islamic Research, "with the purpose of achieving maximum harmony and understanding among the religions," according to Ghorbal.
The group also will meet with the minister of culture and other government officials.
Besides Rabbi Siegman, the Jewish delegation will include Rabbi Saul I. Teplitz, president of the Synagogue Council; Rabbi Walter Wurzburger, president of the (Orthodox) Rabbinical Council of America; Rabbi Stanley Rabinowitz, president of the (Conservative) Rabbinical Assembly; Rabbi Ely E. Palchik, president of the (Reform) Central Conference of American Rabbis and Rabbi Arthur L. Lelyveld, vice-president of the Synagogue Council of America.