web analytics
October 9, 2015 / 26 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘judaism’

Great Synagogue, Shulhof of Vilna Rediscovered 70 Years After Nazi Destruction

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

Israeli, Lithuanian and American researchers have tracked down the remains of the Great Synagogue and Shulhof of Vilna.

The remains, identified in a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey, will be uncovered in an archaeological excavation and displayed as part of a memorial for the magnificent Jewish community of Vilna.

A Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey conducted in June 2015 in Vilnius, Lithuania has uncovered the underground remains of the Great Synagogue and Shulhof of Vilna, now lying partially below a modern school.

Prof. Harry Jol & Nicole Awad conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in Lithuania.

Prof. Harry Jol & Nicole Awad conducting a Ground Penetrating Radar survey at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna in Lithuania.

These important remnants of what existed before the Holocaust, Lithuania’s greatest synagogue, will be exposed in an excavation to commence next year.

The magnificent Great Synagogue of Vilna (Vilnius) in Lithuania, was the oldest and most significant monument of Lithuanian Jewry.

Sadly, like most of the edifices of Jewish culture in Lithuania, the Great Synagogue was lost during the Holocaust.

A joint team led by Dr. Jon Seligman from the Israel Antiquities Authority, Zenonas Baubonis of the the Culture Heritage Conservation Authority of Lithuania, together with Prof. Richard Freund of the University of Hartford, have just completed a successful season to identify the remains of the synagogue using ground penetrating radar.

The Ground Penetrating Radar scan shows an anomaly that is most probably the Mikveh (ritual pool) of the Great Synagogue of Vilna.

The Ground Penetrating Radar scan shows an anomaly that is most probably the Mikveh (ritual pool) of the Great Synagogue of Vilna.

The joint team also included Professor Harry Jol of the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire; Professor Philip Reeder of Duquesne University and Dr. Vladimir Levin of the Center for Jewish Art, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Built in the 17th century in Renaissance-Baroque style, the Great Synagogue of Vilna was surrounded over time with other community buildings, including twelve synagogues, the community council, kosher meat stalls, the famous Strashun library, a complex of mikvehs (ritual pools) and other communal institutions that formed a great center of Torah study, the beating heart of the Lithuanian Jewish movement, the “Misnagdim” and the home for Rabbi Eliyahu, the famed Vilna Gaon.

After centuries of existence, with the destruction of the entire Jewish community of Vilna, this most important shrine of the Jews of Lithuania was ransacked and burnt by the Germans during World War II. The remains were later demolished by the Soviet authorities and a modern school was constructed on the site.

In a season of work, conducted in June 2015, the results of the ground penetrating radar survey showed significant remains of the synagogue below the surface, including sections of the Great Syanagogue and possible remnants of the mikvehs.

Excavation is planned at the site in 2016 with the hope of exposing these remains for research and to display to them to the general public as a fitting memorial to the important Jewish community of Vilna.

It is proposed that the future excavation will be conducted by a mixed team of archaeologists and student volunteers from Lithuania, Israel and the worldwide Jewish community, with the aim of ensuring that Jewish built cultural heritage is seen as an important and inseparable part of Lithuanian heritage that needs to be celebrated by all and preserved for perpetuity.

‘Jewish Holy Temples Never Existed’ Says Israeli Arab MK

Monday, July 27th, 2015

On the anniversary of the destruction of the two Jewish Holy Temples in Jerusalem, Tisha B’Av, an Israeli Arab lawmaker insisted in a radio interview that neither ever existed.

Joint Arab List (Ra’am Tal) Knesset member Masoud Ganaim made the statement during an interview Sunday (July 26) on Galei Tzahal Army Radio. Ganaim was asked – as was Jewish lawmaker Yinon Magal from the Bayit Yehudi party — about violent riots that were being perpetrated by Muslim Arabs in the Al Aqsa mosque on the site of the Temple Mount. The rioting Arabs hurled rocks, cement blocks, firebombs and other explosives at Israel Police and even Waqf Islamic Authority security personnel from inside the mosque.

When asked about the violence, Ganaim said that the rock-throwing was not the problem: the real issue, he said, was the “incitement” caused by Jews wanting to pray at the site, considered the holiest in the Jewish faith.

Ganaim also said during the conversation that no Jewish Temples ever existed on the Temple Mount – and that he knows this for a fact because he is a history teacher.

“The State of Israel knows that Jews and Israel have no legitimacy to the site except for their legitimacy as an occupier – a legitimacy won by force,” he said. The MK blamed Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi) in particular for visiting the site on Tisha B’Av, calling the minister an “occupier” and his visit “incitement.”

Magal responded that a system of reverse “apartheid” exists on the Temple Mount – against Jews – and that despite the sanctity of the site in Judaism … a Jew who wants to make a blessing over an apple he is preparing to eat will be arrested for “incitement.” At the same time, police do nothing to Arabs seen screaming or hurling rocks at visiting Jews.

“The site has always been holy to Islam,” Ganaim repeated, “never to any other religion.”

Was there ever a Jewish Temple on the site? the interviewer asked directly.

Ganaim flatly denied it, and followed up by saying he knew that to be true because he personally is a history teacher. “At most,” there “may have been” a temple “somewhere else,” he allowed, but noted that Jewish scriptures only refer to a future Temple in Jerusalem descending from Heaven.

Jews need to wait until that happens before attempting to visit the Temple Mount, Ganaim advised.

The Western Wall, located at the edge of the Temple Mount, is the remnant of outer retaining wall of the Second Holy Temple in Jerusalem, a fact confirmed numerous times by reputable archaeologists. The Second Temple was built upon the ruins of the First Temple.

There also exist an abundance of archaeological artifacts documenting a Second Temple presence on the Temple Mount itself as well, believed to have been the site of the Temple’s “holy of holies.” There are special laws delineated in the Torah as to when and how a Jew must be prepared in order to approach the site.

The future Temple of which Ganaim spoke is the Third Holy Temple which Jews await and which is expected to appear with the arrival of Moshiach Tzidkenu, the Messiah, who it is said will be born on Tisha B’Av.

May we all merit to see both speedily in our lifetimes.

Chabad’s ‘Roving Rabbis’ Dispersed on Tisha B’Av

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

Millions of Jews around the world are fasting tonight (Saturday July 25), observing the Fast of Tisha B’Av — the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av — as they mourn the destruction of the two ancient Jewish Holy Temples of Jerusalem.

Thousands have gathered to weep and pour their hearts out at the sole remnant that still exists from the Second Temple — the Western Wall — in the Old City of Jerusalem.

This year’s crop of Chabad-Lubavitch “Roving Rabbis” found the young rabbinical students and newly graduated rabbis in far-flung corners of the globe.

The fast commemorates more than just the destruction of both Holy Temples in Jerusalem; it also marks the subsequent expulsion of the Jewish People from their Land and a millennia-long Diaspora and numerous other national Jewish tragedies as well. Although it is one of the two gravest fasts on the Jewish calendar, the actual fast was deferred because it fell on the Sabbath; thus the fast was observed Saturday night and Sunday.

Rabbi Peretz Lazaroff is among the new rabbinic globetrotters, along with Rabbi Yisroel Wolff. The two are on the Caribbean island of Curaçao with a local congregation that is bereft of a rabbi.

Lazaroff told Chabad.org last week they had not yet ironed out the details of where they would spend their meals before and after the fast. Regardless, he said, “we will certainly be in the synagogue with the very lovely people we’ve been meeting since our arrival, and we are doing our utmost to muster up a minyan so we can hold full services. If not we will still be able to observe the central element of the evening: reading the Book of Lamentations.”

The Book of Lamentations is the recitation of the prophecy delivered by Jeremiah about the horrifying destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple by Nebuchadnezzer and the story of the Jewish People being taken to Babylon in chains as slaves.

It is a long, graphic and terrifying tale and one that eventually inspired community leaders to throw Jeremiah into prison, rather than heed his warnings – to their eternal regret later on.

When the Jews were later dragged into slavery by the victorious Babylonians, Jeremiah wept and tried to accompany them but was forced away by Nebuchadnezzer. The retelling of the prophecy is chanted each year on the night of Tisha B’Av.

In some cases, it will be the task of the “Roving Rabbis” to lead the reading of Lamentations in the communities where they end up.

Rabbi Nosson Huebner and Rabbi Yecheskel Posner are in the Chabad House in Lima, Peru, making a pit stop on a six-week tour of the country. For these two rabbis, such a tour means checking out towns and cities to find Israeli backpackers and other Jewish tourists who might be in need of Jewish resources. While on the road they will have to improvise, so their before- and after-fast meals may be the only full kosher repasts they will have until they return to the city next month.

Missionaries in Tel Aviv Hand Out ‘Psalms’ with Christian Teachings

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015

Outraged pedestrians in Tel Aviv alerted an anti-missionary organization that went into action to stop missionaries from distributing innocent-looking “Tehillim” volumes that contained Christian teaching.

Recipients of the book phoned Yad L’Achim, which dispatched a team to the area which confirmed that pocket-sized volumes were being deceptively presented to passersby as “Tehillim.” the Hebrew term for the Book of Psalms.

On the cover, in large letters, was the word “Tehillim” and beneath it, shaped in a semi-circles above a crown, the words “Taste and see that HaShem is good. Fortunate is the man who cleaves to Him.” Along the bottom are the words, “Blessed is the one who comes in the Name of HaShem.”

Nothing about the cover hints that the contents were anything but what they claim to be. In between verses of Tehillim were unequivocal missionary messages on the revelation of Jesus and the imperative to believe in him and follow in his ways.

Yad L’Achim tried to retrieve all the copies that had already been distributed and explained to stunned passersby their real nature. The organization also broadcast announcements throughout the area warning people not to be taken in by the innocent-looking volumes.

The missionaries realized that they had been exposed and stopped handing out the books.

“The time has come to amend the missionary law,  If for no other reason than to put an end to such fraud that the missionaries continue to perpetrate unhindered,” said one Yad L’Achim official.

He added:

There is no way to bring this to an end but to pass a law that effectively prohibits these activities, the sooner the better.

Go Canada

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015


Conservative minister of the Canadian Parliament Peter Kent tells Yishai why his country will not agree to lift Iranian sanctions.

Kent, chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on National Defense, explains that, unlike the United States, Canada demands to see true reform within the Islamic Republic before making concessions. This unwavering position places Canada as a leader against turning a blind eye to terrorism.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

The Biblical Perspective on ‘Jurassic World’

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015


Rabbi Natan Slifkin, also known as the ‘Zoo Rabbi,’ explains the Torah’s view on dinosaurs toYishai Rabbi Slifkin, director of the Biblical Museum of Natural History and author of the Torah Enclyopedia of the Animal Kingdom, has a wild discussion with Yishai about exotic biblical animals.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Archaeologists Discover that Ancient Dead Sea Scroll Is Chapter of Leviticus

Monday, July 20th, 2015

Archaeologists have learned a pleasant surprise: One of the ancient Dead Sea Scrolls that never has been understood turns out to be a 1,500-year-old copy of the beginning of the Book of Leviticus (VaYikra).

Modern technologies made it possible for the first time to read the contents of the burnt scroll that was found 45 years ago inside the Holy Ark of the ancient synagogue at Ein Gedi excavations, on the western shore of the Dead Sea.

This is the first time in any archaeological excavation that a Torah scroll was found in a synagogue, particularly inside a Holy Ark.

The extraordinary find, presented at a press conference Monday, was the conclusion of efforts during the last year that brought the Biblical verses back to life after state of the art and advanced technologies preserved and documented the Dead Sea scrolls.

The scroll of the first chapter of Leviticus, was written in Hebrew and was dated by Carbon 14 analysis to the late sixth–century CE, making it the most ancient scroll from the five books of the Hebrew Bible to be found since the Dead Sea scrolls, most of which are ascribed to the end of the Second Temple period (first century BCE-first century CE).

The Israel Antiquities Authority Israel’s Merkel Technologies Company last year cooperated to perform high-resolution 3-D scanning of some Dead Sea Scrolls fragments and phylactery (tefillin) cases by means of a Micro-CT scanner.

The fragment of the Ein Gedi scroll was scanned along with the phylacteries and phylactery cases. The Israel Antiquities Authority then sent the outcome of these scans to University of Kentucky Professor Brent Seales, who developed digital imaging software that allows to virtually unroll the scroll and visualize the text.

This enabled the first eight verses of the Book of Leviticus to suddenly became legible:

The Lord summoned Moses and spoke to him from the tent of meeting, saying:

Speak to the people of Israel and say to them: When any of you bring an offering of livestock to the Lord, you shall bring your offering from the herd or from the flock.

If the offering is a burnt-offering from the herd, you shall offer a male without blemish; you shall bring it to the entrance of the tent of meeting, for acceptance in your behalf before the Lord. You shall lay your hand on the head of the burnt-offering, and it shall be acceptable in your behalf as atonement for you.

The bull shall be slaughtered before the Lord; and Aaron’s sons the priests shall offer the blood, dashing the blood against all sides of the altar that is at the entrance of the tent of meeting. The burnt-offering shall be flayed and cut up into its parts.

The sons of the priest Aaron shall put fire on the altar and arrange wood on the fire. Aaron’s sons the priests shall arrange the parts, with the head and the suet, on the wood that is on the fire on the altar. (Leviticus 1:1-8).

Dr. Sefi Porath, who discovered the scroll in the 1970 Ein Gedi excavations, said, “The deciphering of the scroll, which was a puzzle for us for 45 years, is very exciting. Ein Gedi was a Jewish village in the Byzantine period (fourth–seventh century CE) and had a synagogue with an exquisite mosaic floor and a Holy Ark.

“The settlement was completely burnt to the ground, and none of its inhabitants ever returned to reside there again, or to pick through the ruins in order to salvage valuable property. In the archaeological excavations of the burnt synagogue, we found in addition to the charred scroll fragments, a bronze seven-branched candelabrum (menorah), the community’s money box containing c. 3,500 coins, glass and ceramic oil lamps, and vessels that held perfume.

“We have no information regarding the cause of the fire, but speculation about the destruction ranges from Bedouin raiders from the region east of the Dead Sea to conflicts with the Byzantine government.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/archaeologists-discover-that-ancient-dead-scroll-is-chapter-of-leviticus/2015/07/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: