According to the 1st-century Jewish historian Josephus, the city of Palmyra, which last week fell to Islamic State, was built by King Solomon. It also had a sizable Jewish population well into the Middle Ages. Ilan Ben Zion takes note of some of the archaeological evidence of ancient Jewish life there:
Relics of Ancient Jewish Life in Palmyra, Now in the Hands of Islamic State
At America’s Best Universities, Biblical Religion Is a Curiosity, if Not a Menace
At the time of Columbia University’s founding in 1784, notes Meir Soloviechik, the leader of the local synagogue, Gershom Mendes Seixas, was made a member of its board of regents. A Jewish student even gave a commencement address, composed by Seixas, in Hebrew. In the 20th century, Columbia attracted numerous Jews with the relaxation of quotas, and was the first secular university to create a chair in Jewish history. Barnard College, Columbia’s all-women’s school, was itself founded by a Jewish woman, and today has a large number of Orthodox Jewish students.