Archaeologists, for the First Time, May Have Discovered a Medieval Bulgarian Synagogue

Since ancient times, Jews have lived in what is now Bulgaria, and historical records suggest there was a thriving community of Byzantine Jews there in the Middle Ages. Ashkenazi Jews didn’t settle in the country until the 13th century; at the end the 15th, the Sephardim who eventually came to predominate began to arrive. Yet no archaeological remains of medieval Bulgarian Jewy have been found—that is, until Mirko Robov began excavating what he had assumed to be a church. Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The [supposed] Jewish house of worship was discovered on the outskirts of a medieval fortress complex located on Trapezitsa Hill [in the medieval capital of Tarnovgrad]. It is a large building that was built during the 1240s and survived until the fall of Tarnovgrad during the Ottoman conquest in 1393, when the town was completely razed. . . .

Bulgaria boasts a 2,000-year-old Jewish community, members of which have been documented to have lived in a Jewish quarter on the Trapezitsa Hill during the Middle Ages. If confirmed as a synagogue after further research, this would be the only one from Bulgaria during this era, and one of only a handful that have been discovered throughout the continent.

“This new-found building is not a church, because it’s characterized by different planning and construction,” said Robov. “It’s coated from the inside, but there are no wall paintings. This is why I connect the building with the religious practices of a different ethnic group.” Robov explained that all of the place names that are connected with the city’s medieval Jewish population are found in areas on or around Trapezitsa Hill. These include a Jewish quarter, a Jewish graveyard at the northwestern foot of the hill, and an area on the southwestern foot called Chifutluk.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Archaeology, Bulgaria, Middle Ages, Synagogues


While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy