The “Jewish Sistine Chapel,” Restored

Jerusalem’s Ades synagogue was constructed at the beginning of the 20th century for a community of Jews from Aleppo. Its woodwork reflects its congregants’ Syrian origins, but its elaborate murals were painted by a brilliant young artist from Austrian Poland, who imbued them with complex Zionist symbolism. The synagogue is only recently being restored to its original splendor. Matti Friedman writes:

The young painter, Yaakov Stark, covered the interior with a combination of traditional motifs, like the symbols of the twelve tribes of Israel, and with the new icons of the Zionist movement, stars of David and menorahs, woven together like a mosaic in shades of blue and green. He included a biblical passage expressing the Jews’ longing to return to Zion, using a Hebrew font that mixed Arabic calligraphy with Art Nouveau. Stark’s masterpiece of early Zionist art turned the building from a mere bastion of traditional craftsmanship into something else—a strange, even unsettling amalgam of styles, the physical expression of the conviction of the Syrian worshipers and the Eastern European artist that though they had never met before, and had recently arrived from vastly different places in a city where they had never been, they were all home. There is no other synagogue like it.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Jerusalem, Jewish architecture, Jewish art, Synagogues, Syrian Jewry, Zionism

 

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