Did Jews Have Synagogues While the Temple Still Stood?

Yes, writes Megan Sauter, but their role changed after the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 C.E. The original synagogues seem to have been intended mainly for study, while post-Temple ones became centers of ritual and prayer, as changes in their construction attest:

All of the Second Temple-period synagogues lack the main architectural characteristic of later synagogues: the Torah shrine. Usually situated on the wall of the synagogue facing Jerusalem, the Torah shrine was the receptacle for the ark containing the Torah scrolls. It became the focus of the later synagogues.

Read more at Bible History Daily

More about: ancient Judaism, History & Ideas, Judaism, Second Temple, Synagogue

Only Hamas’s Defeat Can Pave the Path to Peace

Opponents of the IDF’s campaign in Gaza often appeal to two related arguments: that Hamas is rooted in a set of ideas and thus cannot be defeated militarily, and that the destruction in Gaza only further radicalizes Palestinians, thus increasing the threat to Israel. Rejecting both lines of thinking, Ghaith al-Omar writes:

What makes Hamas and similar militant organizations effective is not their ideologies but their ability to act on them. For Hamas, the sustained capacity to use violence was key to helping it build political power. Back in the 1990s, Hamas’s popularity was at its lowest point, as most Palestinians believed that liberation could be achieved by peaceful and diplomatic means. Its use of violence derailed that concept, but it established Hamas as a political alternative.

Ever since, the use of force and violence has been an integral part of Hamas’s strategy. . . . Indeed, one lesson from October 7 is that while Hamas maintains its military and violent capabilities, it will remain capable of shaping the political reality. To be defeated, Hamas must be denied that. This can only be done through the use of force.

Any illusions that Palestinian and Israeli societies can now trust one another or even develop a level of coexistence anytime soon should be laid to rest. If it can ever be reached, such an outcome is at best a generational endeavor. . . . Hamas triggered war and still insists that it would do it all again given the chance, so it will be hard-pressed to garner a following from Palestinians in Gaza who suffered so horribly for its decision.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict