A Teenager Discovers a “Magical” Mirror in the Galilee

After the persecutions of the Roman emperor Hadrian around 135 CE, the Sanhedrin—or rabbinic high council—relocated to the Galilean town of Usha, making it an important center of Jewish religious life. Recently, an Israeli high-school student discovered a rare potsherd at the site of the ancient town. Yori Yalon reports:

Seventeen-year-old Aviv Weizman participated in a survival course that included excavations throughout Israel—organized by the Education Ministry and the Israel Archaeological Authority (IAA)—when she came across the amazing find at the ancient site of Usha, . . . where the unusual pottery sherd was found, peeping out of the group between the walls of a building.

According to Navit Popovitch, the IAA curator for the classical period, “The fragment is part of a ‘magical mirror’ from the Byzantine period, the 4th–6th centuries CE. A glass mirror, for protection against the evil eye, was placed in the middle of the plaque: the idea was that the evil spirit, such as a demon, who looked in the mirror, would see his own reflection, and this would protect the owner of the mirror. Similar mirror plaques have been found in the past as funerary gifts in tombs, to protect the deceased in their journey to the world to come.”

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Galilee

The IDF’s First Investigation of Its Conduct on October 7 Is Out

For several months, the Israel Defense Forces has been investigating its own actions on and preparedness for October 7, with an eye to understanding its failures. The first of what are expected to be many reports stemming from this investigation was released yesterday, and it showed a series of colossal strategic and tactical errors surrounding the battle at Kibbutz Be’eri, writes Emanuel Fabian. The probe, he reports, was led by Maj. Gen. (res.) Mickey Edelstein.

Edelstein and his team—none of whom had any involvement in the events themselves, according to the IDF—spent hundreds of hours investigating the onslaught and battle at Be’eri, reviewing every possible source of information, from residents’ WhatsApp messages to both Israeli and Hamas radio communications, as well as surveillance videos, aerial footage, interviews of survivors and those who fought, plus visits to the scene.

There will be a series of further reports issued this summer.

IDF chief Halevi in a statement issued alongside the probe said that while this was just the first investigation into the onslaught, which does not reflect the entire picture of October 7, it “clearly illustrates the magnitude of the failure and the dimensions of the disaster that befell the residents of the south who protected their families with their bodies for many hours, and the IDF was not there to protect them.” . . .

The IDF hopes to present all battle investigations by the end of August.

The IDF’s probes are strictly limited to its own conduct. For a broader look at what went wrong, Israel will have to wait for a formal state commission of inquiry to be appointed—which happens to be the subject of this month’s featured essay in Mosaic.

Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Gaza War 2023, IDF, Israel & Zionism, October 7