A Rare 3rd-Century Synagogue, and Its Even Rarer Mosaic

In 2014, archaeologists discovered the ruins of a synagogue from the 3rd century CE in the ancient town of Majdulia. Located in the Golan Heights, Majdulia was founded in the 1st century CE, around the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, and was abandoned around 350. Further excavations have recently uncovered the remains of the colorful mosaics that once decorated the synagogue, as Amanda Borschel-Dan writes:

The rainbow tiles in the black basalt-stone synagogue shed light on a little-known but thriving Jewish community in the Land of Israel’s far north. . . . [Depicted on the tiles] are animal legs and other portions of intricate designs. The fact that no complete image remains may point to a deliberate dismantling of the decorations.

[T]he archaeologists see the lively decorations as pointing to a community that had its eye on transforming the more somber study hall typical of the early Roman period into an ornate public meeting hall.

“In the 3rd century CE, we see an interesting mix of the continuation of a tradition from Second Temple synagogues—for example the seating arrangement—and the tradition of a relatively unadorned architectural style, with the addition of some new elements that with time became common in synagogues, such as colorful mosaics including animals,” said Mechael Osband, [the excavation’s director].

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: ancient Judaism, Golan Heights, Jewish art, Synagogues

Understanding the Background of the White House Ruling on Anti-Semitism and the Civil Rights Act

Dec. 13 2019

On Wednesday, the president signed an executive order allowing federal officials to extend the protections of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act to Jews. (The order, promptly condemned for classifying Jews as a separate nationality, did nothing of the sort.) In 2010, Kenneth Marcus called for precisely such a ruling in the pages of Commentary, citing in particular the Department of Education’s lax response to a series of incidents at the University of California at Irvine, where, among much elase, Jewish property was vandalized and Jewish students were pelted with rocks, called “dirty Jew” and other epithets, and were told, “Jewish students are the plague of mankind.”

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel on campus, U.S. Politics