Reconstructing a 17th-Century Wooden Synagogue

The husband-and-wife team of Rick and Laura Brown has reconstructed the synagogue of the Polish town of Gwoździec. In an interview, Rick Brown discusses the project itself and the building’s elaborate architecture, ornate wooden carvings, and paintings. In a visual idiom lost and nearly forgotten today, the artwork borrowed symbols and motifs from local Christians but blended them with uniquely Jewish features like the “centralized architectural element” of a high cupola:

Now, we believe Gwoździec was where they came up with this new idea of creating a very elaborate, multi-tiered wooden panel ceiling—we call it a cupola, and it moves upward and inward toward the top. . . . This is where the synagogue was creating its own architectural identity separate from the Christian churches. See, the Christian churches were based on the basilica: a long, straight nave, this processional. You come up the staircase, you go through the doors, you go down the aisle, and you come to the altar at the end. In this synagogue, in Gwoździec, the bimah was in the center; this is where the Torah scrolls were brought during a service, this is where the rabbi would speak, and the congregation would move around the bimah in a kind of circular fashion.

Read more at YIVO

More about: Jewish architecture, Jewish art, Poland, Shtetl, Synagogue

 

Iran’s Options for Revenge on Israel

On April 1, an Israeli airstrike on Damascus killed three Iranian generals, one of whom was the seniormost Iranian commander in the region. The IDF has been targeting Iranian personnel and weaponry in Syria for over a decade, but the killing of such a high-ranking figure raises the stakes significantly. In the past several days, Israelis have received a number of warnings both from the press and from the home-front command to ready themselves for retaliatory attacks. Jonathan Spyer considers what shape that attack might take:

Tehran has essentially four broad options. It could hit an Israeli or Jewish facility overseas using either Iranian state forces (option one), or proxies (option two). . . . Then there’s the third option: Tehran could also direct its proxies to strike Israel directly. . . . Finally, Iran could strike Israeli soil directly (option four). It is the riskiest option for Tehran, and would be likely to precipitate open war between the regime and Israel.

Tehran will consider all four options carefully. It has failed to retaliate in kind for a number of high-profile assassinations of its operatives in recent years. . . . A failure to respond, or staging too small a response, risks conveying a message of weakness. Iran usually favors using proxies over staging direct attacks. In an unkind formulation common in Israel, Tehran is prepared to “fight to the last Arab.”

Read more at Spectator

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Syria