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Posts Tagged ‘Bible’

Tel Aviv School Bans Students’ New Year’s Santa Claus Hats

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Students from Russian descent and who learn at a Tel Aviv high school are up in a arms over their principal’s threat to suspend them from school for insisting on wearing Santa Claus hats to mark the end of the secular year and the beginning of 2014.

The Ministry of Education denied that the principal suspended one of the students who refused to obey the order, the Hebrew-language Yediot Acharonot newspaper reported.

Santa Claus is associated with Christmas, but the students said they have a tradition of coming to school on December 31 with Santa Claus hats.

The Education Ministry explained that the principal simply was enforcing a nationwide policy that students wear the same style of clothes and appear properly dressed in class. It said that the students could dress as they please during recess, even if they want to put on Santa Claus hats.

There are an estimated 300,000 former Soviet bloc immigrants who are not Jewish and are living in Israel, thanks to then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon who was anxious to boost the non-Arab population at all costs, especially at the cost of a Jewish state.

Whether or not the students at the Tel Aviv school are Jewish or not, they obviously have little Jewish identity.

“I have learned in this school since the seventh grade, and every December 31 we arrive with Santa Claus hats to commemorate the new year,” one girl said. “In previous years, we also arranged parties.”

And along comes a new principal who is a party pooper.

This it’s not a matter or religious or cultural coercion. It is a matter of ignorance.

“This very insulting,” said the girl. “I was born in Israel, and my mother was born in Russia. We are not talking about a political issue but a hat that symbolizes the beginning of the new year.”

A ninth-grader said, “I would expect the principal to identify with us or at least allow us to keep the custom. It does not disturb or damage anyone.”

Oh, really?

Wouldn’t it be interesting if a bunch of Russian olim at the school were to come closer to Judaism and start wearing a kippa to class? I wonder how tolerant the other students would be. They would be as tolerant as my junior high school principal was in the 1950s, when I dared to put on a kippa when eating lunch in the cafeteria and organize a minyan for Grace after Meals. The principal hauled me into his office with a threat of suspension for the offense of wearing a hat in school, a no-no in those days.

Before people start throwing around the mis-used word “democracy,” Israel is a Jewish state. A large majority of Israeli Jews keep kosher, on one level or another. A large majority of Israeli Jews honor the Sabbath, even if they are not strictly observant.

An overwhelming of Israeli Jews, converts or not, know their roots start with the forefather Avraham. They know that Santa Claus is not just a funny looking character but rather a dangerous symbol of materialism that insults the character and values of Judaism.

The entire Santa Claus hat issue is an anecdote, even a funny anecdote, but it symbolizes the issue of a Jewish state.

There are those who are willing to sacrifice Judaism on the altar of “freedom”  to do as one pleases so long as it is not a Haredi Jew wearing a shtreimel in a public park.

Illegal African immigrants have a right to stay in Israel. Bedouin men have a right to marry as many women as they want, with the government paying them for child support, as they proliferate to the point of reducing Jews to a minority.

Samaria Wines Receive International Acclaim in France Despite Boycotts

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

A French wine competition has awarded the Psagot Boutique Winery of Samaria gold stars for each of its eight wines that are a continuation of the Biblical tradition of wine production in Israel.

Established in 2003 by Yaakov and Naama Berg, the Psagot Boutique Winery is located in the Binyamin hills north of  Jerusalem ,which served as the cradle of wine-cultivation in Biblical times. The winery’s vineyards are planted on ancient limestone terraces at a height of 3,000 feet above sea level, alongside the community of Psagot, located south of Beit El and Ofra in Samaria.

Editorial note: A 2011 Washington Post article suggested that the labels on the Berg bottles say they are from Psagot, Israel, containing wine produced from vineyards planted on ancient limestone terraces in the “northern Jerusalem hills” and aged in French oak barrels stored in an ancient cave.

When asked, Berg “shrugged off suggestions that the labels mask the wine’s origin in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank.”

“This is a geographical definition, not political,” he says of the reference to the Jerusalem hills. “When it comes to wine, the geographical area is critical, like Napa Valley” in California. As for the reference to Israel, Berg said that he is subject to Israeli law and that his winery is built on state land.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

Energetic founder and chief executive of Psagot Winery Yaakov Berg.

In keeping with ancient history of the location, the Psagot Winery ages its wines in an ancient underground cave that was used for wine-making in the Second Temple period. The cave was discovered in the process of establishing the winery in an area where remnants of ancient vineyards still exist.

The annual French wine competition is held by 1001degustations.com, a wine site that was created by French wine producers in order to promote international interest in wines and wine production.

The Psagot wines competed against scores of wines sent from wineries across the world including leading wine-producing countries such as France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Australia, USA, South Africa and Argentina.

All eight of the Psagot wine entries placed in the competition, either in first, second or third place, a special feat for the Israeli boutique winery according to the founder and CEO, Yaakov Berg. “We sent all our wines to the competition and they all received awards,” Berg told Tazpit News Agency.

Psagot’s red wines, Prat and Shiraz, were awarded gold stars as well as the Judges’ Favorite Award. The grading is based on the criteria of color, aroma and taste and is decided by a jury composed of wine producers, sommeliers, oenologists, and restaurant owners. On the competition’s website, Psagot’s Prat wine was noted for its pleasant fragrance and fruity flavor, while the judges described the Shiraz as an elegant delight.

The Psagot Winery has won accolades in Panama, England and the United States among other countries. Because the competitions use blind tasting of wines to prevent bias, the Psagot wines have an equal opportunity to win like all the other wines. “Otherwise, politics would just get in the way and our wines would have no chance,” Berg told Tazpit.

The Psagot winery produced 200,000 wine bottles this year following a successful grape harvest in 2012. Most of the bottles have been exported abroad to various countries.

“This recent win is special because it shows the world what the land of Israel is made of. Two-thousand years ago, our people produced good wines in the same region, and now we are back home doing the same,” Berg said.

Researchers Find Ancient Fabrics in Colors Noted in Jewish Sources

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Centuries-old fabrics identified by Israel Antiquities Authority researchers include one that may have been made by means of a technique similar to making the tekhelet (blue)in tzitzit, the fringes that the Bible commands be worn on four-cornered garments.

To date, only two pieces of fabric treated with actual dye-murex have been found in Israel

The fabrics identified by Dr. Na‘ama Sukenik represent the most prestigious colors in antiquity – indigo, purple and crimson, – that are mentioned in Jewish sources

Thousands of fabrics dating to the Roman period have been discovered in the Judean Desert and regions of the Negev and the Arava. So far only two were colored with dye extracted from the murex snail. Now, within the framework of a study conducted by Dr. Sukenik, three other rare fabrics belonging to pieces of prestigious textiles were exposed that might have been used as clothing in the Roman period.

Dr. Sukenik’s doctoral dissertation was supervised by Professor Zohar Amar and Dr. David Illuz of Bar-Ilan University, and the textiles were examined by Dr. Orit Shamir, Curator of Organic Materials at the Israel Antiquities Authority.

These prestigious textiles, from the Wadi Murabba‘at caves located south of Qumran, were revealed in a study that analyzed the dye of 180 textiles specimens from the Judean Desert caves. Among the many textiles, most of which were dyed using substances derived from plants, were two purple-bordeaux colored textiles – parts of tunics that were double dyed utilizing two of the most expensive materials in antiquity – Murex trunculus (Hexaplex trunculus) and American Cochineal insect .

Photo: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

Photo: Courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority

A third textile, made of wool, indicating the thread fibers were dyed by exposing them to sunlight or heated after having been dyed, represent another use of the murex snail for achieving a shade of blue, and it is possible that the item in question is an indigo fabric made by means of a technique similar to making the tekhelet (blue)in a tzitzit.

The importance of this fabric is extremely significant as there are practically no parallels for it in the archaeological record.

Dr. Sukenik, assisted by Dr. Alexander Varvak, examined the colors using advanced analytical instrumentation for identifying dye substances (HPLC).

The testing of the fabrics, performed by Dr. Orit Shamir of the Israel Antiquities Authority, revealed that the two purple textiles were spinning in a unique manner characteristic of imported textiles, whereas the blue textile was spinning in the same fashion as the local textiles.

Of all of the dyes that were in use, purple is considered the most prestigious color of the earlier periods, but it seems the public’s fondness for this reached its peak in the Hellenistic-Roman period. The purple dyed fabrics attested to the prestige of the garment and the social status of its owner.

There were times when the masses were forbidden from dressing in purple clothing, which was reserved for only the emperor and his family. These measures only served to increase the popularity of that color, the price of which soared and was equal to that of gold.

It is difficult to know for certain how such prestigious fabrics came to be in the Murabba‘at caves. They might have been part of the property belonging to Jewish refugees from the time of the Bar-Kokhba revolt and demonstrate their economic prosperity prior to the outbreak of the uprising.

Another possibility is that they were part of the possessions of a small Roman unit, which on the basis of the artifacts was stationed in the Murabba‘at caves following the Bar Kokhba revolt.  It is likely these same soldiers brought some of their belongings from overseas to Israel and others they purchased from the local Jewish population during their service in the country.

Argentinian Rabbi Sworn into National Parliament on Tanach

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

Rabbi Sergio Bergman, wearing a colorful yarmulke, was sworn in to Argentina’s National Parliament Wednesday on a Tanach when he swore the oath of office before “God, the motherland and the sacred scriptures of the Bible, the Tanach.”

Bergman, the first rabbi to take office as a national legislator, was one of Argentina’s 127 newly elected legislators sworn in Wednesday at an opening ceremony in the Lower House of the National Parliament. His original text was an unprecedented formula that he prepared.

He is believed to be the only rabbi elected to a national parliament outside of Israel.

Bergman, 51, is also the senior rabbi of Argentina’s oldest congregation, Congregacion Israelita Argentina, which marked its 150th year last month with a series of celebrations, including the launching of the rabbi’s book about Pope Francis.

The rabbi-legislator founded a network of Jewish schools and educational projects that includes a gay alliance and a rural farm. In May, he received the Micah Award from the World Union for Progressive Judaism for his commitment to social justice at the organization’s convention in Jerusalem.

Book of Psalms Printed in US in 1640 Sold for $14.2 Million

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013

A copy of a 393-year-old Book of Psalms published by Puritans in Massachusetts has been sold at an auction by Sotheby’s for $14.2 million to American philanthropist and financier David Rubenstein, who plans to lend it to libraries.

Known as the Bay Psalm Book, it is believed to be the first book ever to be published in the colonies that later became the United States of America.

Approximately 1,700 copies of the book were printed in 1640 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, known then as the Massachusetts Bay Colony, and only 11 are known to remain.

Nine of them are in libraries and museums, and the Old South Church in Boston disposed of one of its two copies in the auction, which has made the church a lot richer.

The church’s minister Rev. Nancy Taylor said earlier this year, “It’s a spectacular book, arguably one of the most important books in this nation’s history.

Referring to the tiny size of the book, she explained to the Associated Press, “This was a utilitarian book to sing praises to God, so you wanted to be able to fit it in your pocket and take it to church. It probably would have belonged to a single family. It’s a hymn book, made for hard use, to be sung from and held by children, mothers, fathers, widows, widowers, and… who knows? I’m sure it was in the hands of quite a few Puritan worshippers.”

The Bay Book of Psalms fetched a high price despite its containing several printing errors, such as the word “pslame” appearing on the right hand of the page while “Psalm” appears on the left side. It also uses inverted coma instead of apostrophes and has several typographical errors.

For comparison, the last time a copy of the Bay Book of Psalms was sold was in 1947, when it exchanged hands for $151,000, a higher price than other book at the time.

Tuesday’s night sale makes it the most expensive book  ever to be sold in the United States, breaking the previous record of $11.5 million for a compete four-volume first edition of John James Audubon’s “Birds of America,” also sold by Sotheby’s.

Archaeologists Find Largest, Oldest Near East Wine Cellar in Israel

Sunday, November 24th, 2013

Archaeologists have unearthed what may be the oldest — and largest — ancient wine cellar in the Near East, containing forty jars, each of which would have held fifty liters of strong, sweet wine, archaeologists from George Washington, Brandeis and Haifa universities announced late Friday,

The amount of wine estimated to have been stored in the cellar would fill approximately 3,000 modern bottles, and there probably are other wine cellars waiting to be unearthed.

The cellar was discovered in Tel Kabri, located near the northwestern coastal city of Nahariya and the site of a ruined palace of a sprawling Canaanite city in northern Israel and dating back to about 1,700 B.C.

The archaeological site is located near many of Israel’s modern-day wineries, such as Carmel Mizrachi in Zichron Yaakov, near Haifa.

“This is a hugely significant discovery — it’s a wine cellar that, to our knowledge, is largely unmatched in age and size,” said Eric Cline, chair of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations of at The George Washington University.

He teamed up with excavation co-director Assaf Yasur-Landau, chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations at the University of Haifa, co-directed the excavation. Andrew Koh, assistant professor of classical studies at Brandeis University, was an associate director.

Koh, an archaeological scientist, analyzed the jar fragments using organic residue analysis. He found molecular traces of tartaric and syringic acid, both key components in wine, as well as compounds suggesting ingredients popular in ancient wine-making, including honey, mint, cinnamon bark, juniper berries and resins. The recipe is similar to medicinal wines used in ancient Egypt for two thousand years.

Koh also analyzed the proportions of each diagnostic compound and discovered remarkable consistency between jars.

“This wasn’t moonshine that someone was brewing in their basement, eyeballing the measurements,” Koh noted. “This wine’s recipe was strictly followed in each and every jar.”

Yasur-Landau said, “The wine cellar was located near a hall where banquets took place, a place where the Kabri elite and possibly foreign guests consumed goat meat and wine.” The team discovered two doors leading out of the wine cellar—one to the south, and one to the west, and pending more digging in two years, it is assumed that  both doors probably lead to additional storage rooms.

A large part of the palace was destroyed approximately 3,600 years ago as a result of an earthquake or some other disaster, according to the archaeologists.

Dr. Koh told reporters that the presence of tartaric acid  means it was used for grape juice or wine, and several ingredients are the same as those found in winemaking recipes that previously have been found in ancient texts from ruins in what is now Syria,

Luscious grapes grown in Israel are recorded in the Biblical narrative of the “12 spies” who traveled from the Sinai Desert after the Exodus to the area of Hevron to report back to Moses what the People of Israel could expect when entering. The grapes and pomegranates that the spies brought back from the Hevron area supported the promise that Israel indeed is a land of “milk and honey,” but 10 of the spies also said that the local Canaanites were giants living in fortified cities. The report sent fear into the Children of Israel who rebelled against their mission, for they were punished to remain in the desert and die by the end of 40 years after leaving Egypt, except who were under the ago of 20 at the time of the Exodus and except for the two spies who tried to persuade the people that they could overcome Canaan with God’s help.

Fine wines have been become a booming industry in recent years, with the grapes of the southern Hevron Hills and the Golan Heights being used for dry wines considered some of the best in the world.

Archaeologists Find Shiloh Altar Used During Temple Era

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

A dramatic discovery at the ancient site of Shiloh, located in Samaria, provides the first–ever evidence that it continued to be a religious center after it was destroyed by the Philistines and Jews returned to the city, home of the Tabernacle.

The altar is thought to have been used to offer sacrifices even after the First Temple was built in Jerusalem.

The stone from the Iron Age, coinciding with the period of the first kings of Israel, was found in a wall built later in the Byzantine period.

Archaeologists think that Byzantines took the stone altar from its original site, which might have been in the same location as the Tabernacle. There are two conflicting theories on its location, one stating it is on the northern side of ancient Shiloh and the other placing it on the southern side.

Avital Faleh, administrator of the Tel Shiloh site, told The Jewish Press Wednesday that the wall was on the southern side and that it is more reasonable that the Byzantines carried the altar from nearby rather than several hundred yards, which would be the case if the Tabernacle were located on the northern side.

The stone was measured at two feet by two feet and almost 16 inches high.

Other altars used for sacrificial worship during the First Temple era have been discovered in Be’er Sheva and near Arad in the south and in Tel Dan and near Shiloh in the north. Faleh explained that the stone altar is almost identical with others that have been discovered.

The revelation on Tuesday of the discovery at Shiloh is the first evidence of post-Tabernacle sacrificial worship at the same site where the Bible states the first Tabernacle was erected after the Jews entered Israel following the Exodus from Egypt and the 40 years of living in the Sinai.

Joshua 18:1 states, “The whole congregation of the children of Israel assembled together at Shiloh and erected there the Tent of Assembly, and the land was conquered before them.” The Tabernacle remained at Shiloh for 369 years, according to the Talmud.

The Philistines went to war against the Jews, destroyed the city, and captured the Holy Ark. The Tabernacle probably had been removed before the end of the war but was not used when sacrificial offerings were later offered at two other places, Nov and Gideon, until King Solomon built the First Temple.

However, it took years before Jewish communities, especially Shiloh that was the home of the first sacrifices Israel, adjusted to the cultural and religious change.

In July, archaeologists  said they believed they discovered the remains of the Biblical tabernacle site, after finding holes carved into the rock and which may have been used to hold beams for the Tabernacle.

The Jewish Press reported here in January, that the discovery of  an uncovered broken clay pitcher, embedded in a layer of reddish ashes, is from the time of the devastation of Shiloh, offering detailed evidence of the destruction.

Shiloh was the most significant religious center for Israel before the Philistines destroyed it. The Jewish people offered mandatory sacrifices, and it was there that lots were cast for tribal areas and the cities of the Levites.

Deuteronomy 12:4-7, states,  “You should not do any [act of sacrificial worship] to God, your God, other than at the site which God, your God will choose, to place His Name there, from amongst all your tribes. You should seek out His dwelling [place in the Tabernacle at Shiloh] and come there. You should bring there your burnt offerings, and your [obligatory peace] offerings, your tithes, [first fruits] lifted from your hand [by the priests]—your vows, your pledges, and the firstborn of your cattle and of your sheep [which are to be given to the priests]. [It is] there that you should eat [your sacrifices] before God your God. Then you and your households will rejoice in all the work of your hands. [You should bring offerings according to the means with] which God, your God, blesses you.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/archaeologists-find-shiloh-altar-used-during-temple-era/2013/11/20/

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