How Persian Jews Purchased the Tomb of Esther and Mordecai

March 15 2022

According to local tradition, a shrine in the Iranian city of Hamadan marks the burial place of Mordecai and Esther—the heroes of the Purim holiday, which is celebrated tomorrow and Thursday. The Israel National Library has recently publicized a series of letter that document the purchase of the tomb by Jewish communal leaders in 1971. Hanan Greenwood writes:

There is no mention of [the] burial site in Jewish texts, making the issue of their tomb a matter of dispute. According to several traditions dating back to the Middle Ages, the two Jewish figures are buried in Hamadan. According to one of the traditions, following the death of King Ahasuerus, supporters of Haman, who attempted to have all the Jews in the kingdom killed, sought to exact revenge from Esther and Mordecai, prompting the two to flee to Hamadan.

Initial evidence of the mausoleum’s ties to Esther and Mordecai was provided by the medieval Jewish traveler Benjamin of Tudela in the 12th century; [he] estimated Hamadan to have around 50,000 Jewish residents and described the tomb as being situated in front of the synagogue.

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Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Benjamin of Tudela, Esther, Jewish cemeteries, Mordecai, Persian Jewry

 

Why the Leader of Hamas Went to Russia

Sept. 30 2022

Earlier this month, the Hamas chairman Ismail Haniyeh and several of his colleagues visited Moscow, where they met with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and other Russian officials. According to Arabic-language media, Haniyeh came seeking “new ideas” about how to wage war against the Jewish state. The terrorist group has had good relations with the Kremlin for several years, and even maintains an office in Moscow. John Hardie and Ivana Stradner comment on the timing of the visit:

For Moscow, the visit likely reflects a continuation of its efforts to leverage the Palestinians and other issues to pressure Israel over its stance on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Russia and Israel built friendly relations in the decades following the Soviet Union’s dissolution. After Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Jerusalem condemned the war, but made sure to tread carefully in order to preserve working ties with Moscow, lest Russian military forces in Syria disrupt Israel’s strategically important air operations there.

Nevertheless, bilateral tensions spiked in April after Yair Lapid, then serving as Israel’s foreign minister, joined the chorus of voices worldwide accusing Russia of committing war crimes in Ukraine. Jerusalem later provided Kyiv with some non-lethal military aid and a field hospital. In response, Moscow hardened its rhetoric about Israeli actions in the Palestinian territories.

The Palestinian issue isn’t the only way that Russia has sought to pressure Israel. Moscow is also threatening, on seemingly spurious grounds, to shutter the Russian branch of the Jewish Agency.

Moscow likely has little appetite for outright conflict with Israel, particularly when the bulk of Russia’s military is floundering in Ukraine. But there are plenty of other ways that Russia, which maintains an active intelligence presence in the Jewish state, could damage Israel’s interests. As Moscow cozies up with Hamas, Iran, and other enemies of Israel, Jerusalem—and its American allies—would do well to keep a watchful eye.

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Read more at Algemeiner

More about: Hamas, Israeli Security, Russia