The Mysterious Menorah Carving in the Ancient City of Ephesus

Located in modern Turkey, Ephesus was once the cultural and economic capital of the Roman empire in Asia Minor. It was also home to the Celsus Library—the third-largest in the Roman world. At some point during its history, Judith Sudilovsky reports, “someone carved a graffiti image of a menorah into one of the steps of the library’s marble staircase.” Since its discovery in the early 20th century, archaeologists and other scholars have been attempting to trace the origins and meaning of the carving.

The local Turkish tour guide Hasan Gulday, who has worked with Israeli and Jewish tourists and writes on his website about the menorahs in Ephesus, points out that another menorah graffito was etched next to the so-called brothel building in Ephesus. The most important carving of a menorah in Ephesus, however, is under the Mezaeus and Mithridates Gate, built by two Persian-Jewish freed slaves, and dedicated to the Roman emperor [Augustus] who had been their former master, Gulday said.

“Jews were considered important for business and trade due to their high literacy rate at a time when only 3 percent of the general population was literate,” said Gulday.

A cosmopolitan city, ancient Ephesus had an established and flourishing Jewish community whose presence was documented from the 1st century BCE by Josephus, among others. . . .The Jews of Ephesus, who were Roman citizens, were exempt from military service, and had the right to have someone take care of their dietary needs in the market assuring them which products were kosher. . . . According to the Roman census, 10 percent of the population of Ephesus was Jewish, and they later had the right to collect taxes for the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, which was very unusual.

Read more at Jerusalem Post

More about: Ancient Near East, Archaeology, Menorah, Turkish Jewry

How to Save the Universities

To Peter Berkowitz, the rot in American institutions of higher learning exposed by Tuesday’s hearings resembles a disease that in its early stages was easy to cure but difficult to diagnose, and now is so advanced that it is easy to diagnose but difficult to cure. Recent analyses of these problems have now at last made it to the pages of the New York Times but are, he writes, “tardy by several decades,” and their suggested remedies woefully inadequate:

They fail to identify the chief problem. They ignore the principal obstacles to reform. They propose reforms that provide the equivalent of band-aids for gaping wounds and shattered limbs. And they overlook the mainstream media’s complicity in largely ignoring, downplaying, or dismissing repeated warnings extending back a quarter century and more—largely, but not exclusively, from conservatives—that our universities undermine the public interest by attacking free speech, eviscerating due process, and hollowing out and politicizing the curriculum.

The remedy, Berkowitz argues, would be turning universities into places that cultivate, encourage, and teach freedom of thought and speech. But doing so seems unlikely:

Having undermined respect for others and the art of listening by presiding over—or silently acquiescing in—the curtailment of dissenting speech for more than a generation, the current crop of administrators and professors seems ill-suited to fashion and implement free-speech training. Moreover, free speech is best learned not by didactic lectures and seminars but by practicing it in the reasoned consideration of competing ideas with those capable of challenging one’s assumptions and arguments. But where are the professors who can lead such conversations? Which faculty members remain capable of understanding their side of the argument because they understand the other side?

Read more at RealClearPolitics

More about: Academia, Anti-Semitism, Freedom of Speech, Israel on campus