Even When the Temple Stood, Jews Needed Synagogues—and in Some Communities, Two of Them

Dec. 15 2021

To Christians, the Galilean town of Migdal (or Magdala) is the birthplace of the New Testament figure of Mary Magdalene. It is also the location of a 1st-century synagogue, discovered twelve years ago, containing an intriguing engraved ritual object known as the Magdala stone. Recently archaeologists unearthed a second synagogue, which also predates the destruction of the Second Temple. Rossella Tercatin writes:

The first synagogue was uncovered in the Migdal in 2009, when an excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority unearthed Jewish ritual baths (mikva’ot), streets, a marketplace, and industrial facilities.

“The fact that we have found two synagogues shows that the Jews of the Second Temple period were looking for a place for religious, and perhaps also social, gatherings,” said the head of Haifa University’s Zinman Institute of archaeology, Adi Erlich.

The newly discovered synagogue was shaped as a square and built of basalt and limestone. It featured a main hall and two other rooms. The main hall was coated in white plaster and featured a stone bench along the walls, also coated in plaster. One of the smaller rooms presented a stone shelf. According to the experts it might have been used to store Torah scrolls.

“The synagogue we are excavating now is close to the residential street, whereas the one excavated in 2009 was surrounded by an industrial area,” Erlich also said. “Thus the local synagogues were constructed within the social fabric of the settlement.”

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, New Testament, 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