A Rare and Ancient Mosaic from a Greek Synagogue Goes on Display

Aug. 14 2019

First discovered in the 19th century, the mosaic floor of a destroyed synagogue on the Greek island of Aegina has recently been made available for public viewing. The synagogue belonged to a community of Jews who were precursors of the Romaniot—the Judeo-Greek-speaking Jews who lived in the eastern Mediterranean before the influx of refugees from Spain in the 15th century. Ilanit Chernick reports:

The mosaic has rich geometric patterns and two Greek inscriptions, which identify the mosaic floor as belonging to a 4th-century-CE synagogue on the island. . . . “The Jewish community, which was involved in purple dyeing and tanning, was prosperous enough to establish a synagogue in 300-350 CE with a richly decorated mosaic floor,” [the group curating the exhibit] explained. “According to the inscriptions, Theodoros Archisynagogos built the synagogue from donations.”

While scholars are not entirely in agreement about the meaning of the term archisynagogos, it seems to have referred to the lay leader, and usually prime funder, of a synagogue. Chernick continues:

[The synagogue is] believed to have remained in use until the 7th century, when the community fled inland with the rest of the population because of threats and raids from the sea. “According to published sources, an inscription belonging to a medieval synagogue was also found in Paleochora, the town where the island population settled,” [the curators stated].

The mosaic was discovered by the German archaeologist Ludwig Ross in 1829. In 1928, the archaeologist Eleazar Sukenik, a Jew living in Mandatory Palestine, traveled to Aegina to study it. Several years later, in 1932, the American archaeologist Belle Mazur, under the guidance of the German archaeologist Franz Gabriel, [excavated the remainder of the synagogue].

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Greece, Jewish art, Romaniote Jewry, Synagogues

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism