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].

Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

American Aid to Lebanon Is a Gift to Iran

For many years, Lebanon has been a de-facto satellite of Tehran, which exerts control via its local proxy militia, Hizballah. The problem with the U.S. policy toward the country, according to Tony Badran, is that it pretends this is not the case, and continues to support the government in Beirut as if it were a bulwark against, rather than a pawn of, the Islamic Republic:

So obsessed is the Biden administration with the dubious art of using taxpayer dollars to underwrite the Lebanese pseudo-state run by the terrorist group Hizballah that it has spent its two years in office coming up with legally questionable schemes to pay the salaries of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), setting new precedents in the abuse of U.S. foreign security-assistance programs. In January, the administration rolled out its program to provide direct salary payments, in cash, to both the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and the Internal Security Forces (ISF).

The scale of U.S. financing of Lebanon’s Hizballah-dominated military apparatus cannot be understated: around 100,000 Lebanese are now getting cash stipends courtesy of the American taxpayer to spend in Hizballah-land. . . . This is hardly an accident. For U.S. policymakers, synergy between the LAF/ISF and Hizballah is baked into their policy, which is predicated on fostering and building up a common anti-Israel posture that joins Lebanon’s so-called “state institutions” with the country’s dominant terror group.

The implicit meaning of the U.S. bureaucratic mantra that U.S. assistance aims to “undermine Hizballah’s narrative that its weapons are necessary to defend Lebanon” is precisely that the LAF/ISF and the Lebanese terror group are jointly competing to achieve the same goals—namely, defending Lebanon from Israel.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Iran, Israeli Security, Lebanon, U.S. Foreign policy