The Mystery of Jerusalem’s Cave Synagogue

For many decades, historians and archaeologists have argued about the location of the “cave synagogue,” known only from medieval texts. Now they many have finally found it, writes Nadav Shragai:

The only part of the synagogue’s story about which there is consensus took place in the first half of the Hebrew month of Av [July or August] in the year 1099, when Jerusalem fell to the Crusaders. Jews and Muslims fought shoulder-to-shoulder for the city, but were eventually defeated, and the Crusaders slaughtered the residents of Jerusalem. . . . According to Gilo of Paris, a 12th-century poet, the Jews took the lead in defending Jerusalem and were the last to fall. The Muslim historian Ibn al-Qalanisi says that the Jews of the city fled to the Cave Synagogue, where the Crusaders burned them alive, a story corroborated by the 12th-century Arab writer Sibt Ibn al-Jawzi.

The archaeologist Dan Bahat, who excavated and researched the Western Wall tunnels, thinks that he has discovered the location of the Cave Synagogue. He believes that it lies “in the area of Warren’s Gate,” underground, which is why it is known as the “cave.” Warren’s Gate is named after the English researcher Sir Charles Warren (1840-1927) and is one of four gates that in the Second Temple era led from the Western Wall to the Temple Mount. In the past, it opened to a tunnel that was dug eastward under the Mount and ended in stairs leading up to the Temple Mount plaza.

Bahat thinks that in the early Muslim period (638-1099) the Jews of Jerusalem established their main synagogue near the gate because of its proximity to where they believed the [Temple’s] Holy of Holies was located beneath the Dome of the Rock.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Crusades, Jerusalem, Synagogues, Temple Mount

Will Costco Go to Israel?

Social-media users have mocked this week new Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich for a poorly translated letter. But far more interesting than the finance minister’s use of Google Translate (or some such technology) is what the letter reveals about the Jewish state. In it, Smotrich asks none other than Costco to consider opening stores in Israel.

Why?

Israel, reports Sharon Wrobel, has one of the highest costs of living of any country in the 38-member Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This

has been generally attributed to a lack of competition among local importers and manufacturers. The top three local supermarket chains account for over half of the food retail market, limiting competition and putting upward pressure on prices. Meanwhile, import tariffs, value-added tax costs and kosher restrictions have been keeping out international retail chains.

Is the move likely to happen?

“We do see a recent trend of international retailers entering the Israeli market as some barriers to food imports from abroad have been eased,” Chen Herzog, chief economist at BDO Israel accounting firm, told The Times of Israel. “The purchasing power and technology used by big global retailers for logistics and in the area of online sales where Israel has been lagging behind could lead to a potential shift in the market and more competitive prices.”

Still, the same economist noted that in Israel “the cost of real estate and other costs such as the VAT on fruit and vegetables means that big retailers such as Costco may not be able to offer the same competitive prices than in other places.”

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Costco, Israel & Zionism