An Ancient Synagogue Is Testimony to the Persistence of Judaism during the Era of Christian Ascendancy

While most of the historic synagogues discovered by archaeologists in Israel have been found in the northern part of the country, a few have been uncovered in the arid south. All Israel News reports on one:

The Ma’on synagogue, first discovered in 1957 on the southern end of Israel, is one of three ancient synagogues discovered so far in the western Negev region. The town of Ma’on is believed to have existed during the late Roman period and in the Byzantine period, during the 5th and 7th centuries CE.

Ma’on, or Manois, was considered to be a large town, mostly inhabited by Christians. While most likely under Byzantine rule at that time, the ancient synagogue is evidence that a Jewish community existed, with the religious center being the most significant expression of its independence.

The synagogue faces northeast, towards Jerusalem, according to Jewish tradition, and was thought to have been built on a basilica plan, with an ancient mosaic floor in the center and two side aisles paved with stone. The ceiling was believed to have been made of wooden beams and clay. The walls of the synagogue are thought to have been built with rectangular stones that were placed on stone foundations. According to inscriptions, a cavalry unit from the western Balkans may also have been stationed in Ma’on for a time.

A magnificent mosaic floor was [also] discovered at the site.

Read more at All Israel News

More about: Ancient Israel, Archaeology, Jewish-Christian dialogue, Mosaics, Synagogues

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