Israeli Schoolchildren Discover a 7th-Century Engraving of a Hanukkah Menorah

Participating in a project organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority, thousands of students joined adult volunteers in helping to prepare a new hiking path through the historic Galilee—discovering, in the process, a number of ancient and medieval artifacts. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

[The] pupils participated in archaeological excavations at sites including Usha, the first seat of the Sanhedrin in the Galilee following the Bar Kokhba revolt of 132-136 CE. Previous excavations of the small Galilee town . . . have uncovered remains of a thriving community, including building foundations, a mosaic floor, rock-hewn tombs, wells, wine presses, and an oil press. . . . During the [current] excavations, more evidence of settlement was discovered, including an intact 1,400-year-old oil lamp engraved with an eight-branched menorah, such as one would use during the holiday of Hanukkah. (The menorah of the Temples, and the symbol of the state of Israel, only has seven branches.) . . .

Additionally . . . the team uncovered clear signs of the glass industry that is recorded in ancient Jewish sources as having been located in the vicinity of Usha, [and that] was one of the most important centers of glass manufacturing during the Roman [period]. The quality [of the glass produced there] was considered very fine—the discovered blocks are still crystal clear—and would have been exported throughout the empire. . . .

[One] high-school student, Ilai Yonah, . . . uncovered a gold coin bearing an inscription from the period of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, ruler of the Ottoman empire and builder of Jerusalem’s city walls, who died in 1566. Only two others exist in the State Treasury.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Galilee, History & Ideas, Menorah, Ottoman Empire

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7