A Greek Synagogue Is Restored to Its Former Glory

Having survived World War II, decades of neglect, and its partial destruction in a 1978 earthquake, Thessaloniki’s Monastiriotes synagogue has finally been restored. Its congregants simultaneously celebrated its reopening and Israeli independence day on May 15. Elias Messinas writes:

The synagogue was designed by the Czech Jewish architect Eli Ernst Levi and funded by families that moved to Thessaloniki from Monastir [in modern-day Macedonia]. . . . After World War II, it was at this synagogue that the Jewish survivors of the Holocaust held their first meetings. . . . The Monastiriotes synagogue was among the very few that survived the war, thanks to the intervention of the Red Cross, which used it as storehouse. . . .

[The restoration affected] every possible corner and detail of the synagogue: from hiding exposed wiring to revealing the original hidden decorative terrazzo floor tiles; from revealing original wall paintings to replacing and adding damaged decorative plaster decorations . . . to erecting again the [marble depiction of the Ten Commandments crowning the central arch of the synagogue façade, which had fallen off during the earthquake].

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Architecture, Greece, History & Ideas, Holocaust, Synagogues, Thessaloniki

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security