One of the World’s Oldest Synagogues Was Unearthed in Modern-Day Russia

Long before Slavs settled the northern coast of the Black Sea, Greek merchants established towns and communities there. Archaeologists have recently uncovered the remains of an ancient synagogue in one of these colonies, known as Phanagoria. Aristos Georgiou reports:

The synagogue is rectangular, measuring just under 70 feet by 20 feet, containing two chambers each about 650 square feet. The walls were adorned with paintings and tiles, the archaeologists said. Inside, they found marble menorahs, liturgy tables, the remains of marble columns, and fragments of marble stelae—upright stone slabs bearing inscriptions or illustrations.

One stela dated to the 5th century CE bears an inscription in Greek that reads “synagogue.” This, along with earlier discoveries at Phanagoria, including marble tablets inscribed with “house of prayer” and “synagogue” dated to 16 CE and 51 CE, respectively, indicates that the synagogue is one of the world’s oldest.

The researchers said the house of worship was likely in use from at least the early 1st century CE—about 2,000 years ago. The earliest evidence of synagogues dates to the 3rd century BCE, although their construction appears to have experienced a notable increase toward the 3rd century CE. . .  An analysis of artifacts at the synagogue indicates that it stood for more than 500 years, meaning it existed until the middle of the 6th century when Phanagoria was pillaged and devastated by local barbarian tribes.

Read more at Newsweek

More about: ancient Judaism, Archaeology, Russian Jewry, Synagogues

What Is the Biden Administration Thinking?

In the aftermath of the rescue of four Israeli hostages on Friday, John Podhoretz observes some “clarifying moments.” The third strikes me as the most important:

Clarifying Moment #3 came with the news that the Biden administration is still calling for negotiations leading to a ceasefire after, by my count, the seventh rejection of the same by Hamas since Bibi Netanyahu’s secret offer a couple of weeks ago. Secretary of State Blinken, a man who cannot say no, including when someone suggests it would be smart for him to play high-school guitar while Ukraine burns, will be back in the region for the eighth time to urge Hamas to accept the deal. Why is this clarifying? Because it now suggests, here and for all time, that the Biden team is stupid.

Supposedly the carrot the [White House] is dangling in the region is a tripartite security deal with Saudi Arabia and Israel. Which would, of course, be a good thing. But like the stupid people they are now proving to be, they seem not to understand the very thing that led the Saudis to view Israel as a potential ally more than a decade ago: the idea that Israel means business and does what it must to survive and built itself a tech sector the Saudis want to learn from. Allowing Hamas to survive, which is implicitly part of the big American deal, will not lead to normalization. The Saudis do not want an Iranian vassal state in Palestine. Their entire foreign-policy purpose is to counter Iran. I know that. You know that. Everybody in the world knows that. Even Tony Blinken’s guitar is gently weeping at his dangling a carrot to Israel and Saudi Arabia that neither wants, needs, nor will accept.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Antony Blinken, Gaza War 2023, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship