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January 20, 2017 / 22 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Haifa’

Haifa U. Archeologists Excavate Golan Heights Roman Theater [3d]

Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Archaeologists of the University of Haifa excavations at the Hippos (Sussita) site on the Golan Heights have uncovered a large Roman theater. However, the theater’s location, outside the city walls, supports the hypothesis that the facility was used mainly for religious ceremonies, rather than for entertainment.

Dr. Michael Eisenberg, who heads the Hippos Excavations Project, revealed the new findings at the annual research conference of the Zinman Institute of Archeology at the university. “The excavations outside the city over the past few years are falling into place like in a detective story,” he remarked. “First we found the mask of Pan, then the monumental gate leading to what we began to assume was a large public compound – a sanctuary. And now, this year, we find a public bathhouse and theater in the same location, both facilities that in the Roman period could be associated with the god of medicine Asclepius or with gods of nature such as Dionysus and Pan.”


Hippos overlooks the Sea of Galilee from a prominent hill some two kilometers east of the lake, and is situated within the area of Sussita National Park, operated by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority. In the Roman period, Hippos was an important city in the Golan and the area to the east of the Sea of Galilee. Over the past two years, researchers from the Institute of Archeology at the University of Haifa have repeatedly been amazed by the astonishing findings uncovered outside the city walls – not something that would usually be expected.

A feature that was missing in the excavated city until now was the theater – a public building capable of accommodating thousands of people, which served as the venue for the most popular public shows. Dr. Eisenberg explained that no self-respecting Roman city of that period could allow itself to remain without a theater; yet until now, no such structure was uncovered in Sussita.

“From the moment our delegation began to uncover Hippos, we waited for the moment when we would find a theater in the city. It’s simply unthinkable that any Roman polis could have existed without a theater. Some researchers suggested that the small odeon we uncovered might have served as a substitute for the theater, given the small size of the city, but we knew that this was not the case. Prof. Arthur Segal, who headed the Hippos project for many years and is a leading expert on the subject of theaters in the Roman East, insisted that there must be a theater in the city,” Dr. Eisenberg recalled.

Dr. A. Iermolin (standing) and Dr. M. Eisenberg during the excavation of the first vaulted passage (vomitorium).

Dr. A. Iermolin (standing) and Dr. M. Eisenberg during the excavation of the first vaulted passage (vomitorium).

Even more exciting than the discovery of the theater was the fact that it may have been an expansive sanctuary outside the city walls. “Dionysus, the god of wine, is associated with change and the loss of identity, and accordingly with the masks used in the theater,” Dr. Eisenberg explained.

“From the earliest days of the theater in the Greek world, the buildings served for the worship of Dionysus. In both Greek and Roman sites, we find a bathhouse as part of the sanctuary associated with healing and with Asclepius, the god of medicine. The monumental gate, which we almost completed excavating this year, probably bore the bronze mask of Pan that was found in one of the gate towers. All these findings suggest that this was a large sanctuary outside the city – something that completely changes what we knew about Hippos and the surrounding area until now. If our hypothesis is correct, it is quite possible that thousands of visitors to the theater came not to see the latest show in town, but to take part in rituals honoring one of the gods of the Greco-Roman pantheon. They watched and listened to the priests here until they entered a state of ecstasy and catharsis,” Dr. Eisenberg concluded.

In the meantime, the researchers uncovered various intriguing findings outside the city over the recent years. In 2015, they uncovered the unique bronze mask of the god Pan, and a year later they located a monumental gate on which the mask must have been placed. “Pan’s gate” was chosen several days ago as one of the “Top 10 Biblical Archaeology Discoveries in 2016” by the Biblical Archaeology Review.

The results of the trial excavation at the theater: semicircular passage between the lower and upper seating arrangements (praencinctio) and entrance to a vaulted corridor (vomitorium).

The results of the trial excavation at the theater: semicircular passage between the lower and upper seating arrangements (praencinctio) and entrance to a vaulted corridor (vomitorium).

These findings led the researchers to assume that the gate formed the entrance to a large compound, perhaps a ritual site devoted to Pan or Dionysus, who were often worshipped together. “This year, like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle falling into place, we have found the first buildings in this compound – the public bathhouse and the theater, both of which are associated with ritual,” Dr. Eisenberg explained.

The researchers located the public bathhouse relatively easily, although they have only exposed a small part of its extensive and rich compound. Alexander Iermolin, the member of the delegation who found the famous Pan mask, noticed a basalt depression covered in a huge layer of debris and suggested that this could be the site of the theater. After excavating for several days, two findings were uncovered that proved almost beyond doubt that this was indeed the theater: a passageway limited by a semicircular wall built of basalt ashlars (masonry made of large square-cut stones) which served as a divide between the lower and upper blocks of seats, and one of the vaulted corridors that crossed the seating area, allowing the audience to reach their blocks of seats from the vomitorium. A small excavation revealed the foundations of several rows of seats, although, needless to say, the seats themselves have long since vanished.

The gate is dated to the early second century CE, and the probe excavation suggests that this is also the period when the theater itself was built.

The excavations and discoveries at Hippos are made possible thanks to a devoted team of archeologists and other participants who volunteer their time on Fridays, without any support from government sources, at one of the most important Classical Period sites in Israel.


Thousands Accompany IDF Soldiers to Final Resting Places in Jerusalem, Kfar Etzion, Haifa

Monday, January 9th, 2017

Thousands of people came to stand in solidarity at graveside with the families and friends of four Israeli officers who were killed Sunday in a truck ramming attack in Jerusalem. Shira Tzur, Shir Hajaj, Yael Yekutiel, and dual Israeli-American citizen Erez Orbach each were accompanied on their final journeys by hundreds of people.

Israel Chief Sephardic Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef, and Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar, plus several Knesset members were present at Mount Herzl cemetery in Jerusalem to support the family of Shir Hajaj.

Her sister Bar spoke to her, saying, “I’m sorry you didn’t get your life… From now on, all your beauty will be robbed in the sadness of your song.” (The word “shir” in Hebrew means “song.”)

IDF personnel gathered with family and friends at the military section of the Givat Shaul cemetery in Jerusalem to support the parents of Yael Yekutiel. Her father eulogized her as “a teacher, a soldier.”

Israeli-American officer Erez Orbach was accompanied to his final resting place at the Kfar Etzion cemetery by his family, and one of the rabbis at the yeshiva where he had studied.

Despite a health problem that initially excluded him from service, the soldier had fought until he was accepted, telling the IDF it was his “duty to serve.”

Hundreds also accompanied the family of Shira Tzur, from the city of Haifa, as she was taken to her final resting place in the city. Like her fellow officers, Second Lieutenant Tzur had been posthumously promoted. The 20-year-old officer began her military career in a pilots’ course before transferring to the unit in which she ended her life. She was known for always trying to make her environment “a better place,” her aunt told Ynet.

Hana Levi Julian

Funerals for Murdered IDF Officers Set for Monday

Sunday, January 8th, 2017

Funerals for the four IDF officers who were murdered Sunday in the truck ramming attack by a Jerusalem terrorist in the neighborhood of Armon HaNatziv are scheduled to take place at various times through the day in different areas of the country.

At 11:00 am, Second Lieutenant Erez Orbach, z’l, 20, of Alon Shvut, will be laid to rest at the cemetery in Kfar Etzion.

At 2:00 pm, Second Lieutenant Shira Tzur, z’l, age 20, of Haifa, will be laid to rest in the military cemetery in that city.

At 3:00 pm, Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, z’l, age 20, of Givatayim, will be laid to rest at the cemetery in Kiryat Shaul.

At 2:00 pm, Lieutenant Shir Hajaj, 22, z’l, of Ma’ale Adumim, will be laid to rest at the Mount Herzl military cemetery in the holy city of Jerusalem.

The families of Second Lt. Shira Tzur and Lt. Erez Orbach have requested that the media respect their privacy and desist from coverage at the funerals of their loved ones.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet. May the memories of all four IDF officers who fell in the line of duty be for a blessing.

Hana Levi Julian

Haifa Terror Suspect Surrenders to Police

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

A man suspected of carrying out a terrorist attack this week in Haifa surrendered himself to police on Thursday night.

The dramatic development took place near the Bridge of the Heroes in the Hadar neighborhood of the city.

Due to a gag order on the investigation, few other details are available at this time.

Earlier in the day, friends and family accompanied murder victim Guy Kafri, 48, as his body was laid to rest at a nearby cemetery in Moshav Ofer.

Kafri was one of two people who were shot in Haifa on Tuesday in an attack that went largely unreported for two days due to a gag order that was issued in order to allow investigators time to determine whether or not the shooting was a terrorist attack.

The second victim, a rabbi who is a member of the Haifa conversion court, is reported to be in serious but stable condition.

This is a developing story.

Hana Levi Julian

Hunting Down a Terrorist in Haifa, City of Unity

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

It’s not easy to hunt down a terrorist in a place that’s known for its inclusive nature, its mixed neighborhoods and for the diverse population that has transformed the port city into a unique cultural capital.

But on Wednesday morning,social media chat boards were busy with members posting pleas to a nameless murderer in their midst to “turn yourself in, you’re turning our lives into hell on earth.” By Thursday, the posts were exchanging funeral information.

Guy Kafri, 48, was one of two people shot on Tuesday in a murder that went largely unreported for two days due to a gag order by police. They were reportedly trying to figure out whether the crime was one of passion, nationalism or due to an underworld dispute.

It has now become clear that the victims were attacked by a terrorist.

The second man who was shot, a rabbi on the Haifa conversion court, was seriously wounded in the attack, but has survived.

Kafri was laid to rest Thursday in Moshav Ofer. “No one had a bad word to say about him,” his brother-in-law, Shachar Dror, told the Hebrew-language Ynet site. A driver who transported disabled children, this was a victim who seems to have had no enemies.

“All the evidence points to the fact that Guy was murdered because he was Jewish,” Dror said.

Haifa residents have called on security personnel to release the name and photo of the suspect for whom they are searching – and whose identifying information is still protected by a gag order.

Hana Levi Julian

UPDATE: Fire Under Control at Haifa Refinery [video]

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

UPDATE: Firefighting forces have managed to control the blaze at Haifa’s refinery that erupted Sunday morning. All nearby highways have been reopened to traffic.

A fire erupted Sunday morning in an oil tank at the refinery north of Haifa. Firefighting forces are rushing to the event. According to early reports, the fire is endangering nearby oil tanks. Routes 4 and 22 nearby have been closed to traffic.

A spokesman for the local fire department stated that the firefighting forces are battling the blazes. “Their primary mission is to protect the nearby tanks,” he said.

The blaze at the refinery and its storage tanks represents one of Israel’s worst nightmare scenarios, which have moved generations of local mayors of Haifa and the suburban towns along the bay to its north to demand their removal from the area for fear that the hazardous materials would leak or that a fire there–possibly the result of Hezbollah rockets–would ignite the entire region.

The Sunday morning fire broke out near the country’s largest gas farm, which processes more than 80% of the gas sold in Israel.

Heavy smoke over Haifa oil refineries

Heavy smoke over Haifa oil refineries

David Israel

Israeli Bus Driver Injured by Terrorists in Kiryat Haim

Sunday, December 18th, 2016

An Israeli bus driver was injured Sunday night in a terror attack near the Home Center intersection in Kiryat Haim, a suburb of the northern port city of Haifa.

The driver appeared to have been hit in the face – the area of his nose and elsewhere bloodied — by a rock thrown at him by one of the attackers, according to the Hebrew-language 0404 website, after the windows of the bus door were smashed with a crowbar.

The driver said a Golf car pulled up, the driver in the hands of Arabs, and tried to sideswipe his bus, attempting to force him off the road. From this car, the rock was thrown.

A passenger on the bus added that an Arab bashed in the windows on the door with a crowbar.

The car that tried to run the bus off the road managed to escape. Police officers set out to search for the attackers.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/israeli-bus-driver-injured-by-terrorists-in-kiryat-haim/2016/12/18/

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