The Mysterious Menorah Carving in the Ancient City of Ephesus

April 21 2022

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.

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Read more at Jerusalem Post

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

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