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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘synagogue’

Baylor University Group Helps Unearth Ancient Mosaics, Coins, in Israeli Synagogue Ruins

Monday, July 11th, 2016

Ancient mosaics depicting Noah’s ark and the parting of the Red Sea have been discovered by university scholars and students excavating a synagogue in Israel that dates to the fifth century.

They also have uncovered coins spanning 2,300 years, says Nathan Elkins, Ph.D., an assistant professor of art history in Baylor University’s College of Arts & Sciences, Waco, Texas. He specializes in the study of coins and serves as numismatist at the site in a former village called Huqoq.

“The ancient coins . . . are critical for our knowledge of the monumental synagogue and the associated village,” Elkins, a member of a team of staff and students from Baylor, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Brigham Young University and the University of Toronto.

The mosaics decorate the floor of a synagogue that dates to the time when the area was ruled by the Roman Empire and when Christianity had become the empire’s official religion. The mosaics show an ark and pairs of animals including elephants, leopards, donkeys, snakes, bears, lions, ostriches, camels, sheep and goats.

The images also portray Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by large fish, surrounded by overturned chariots with horses and chariot drivers.

Donkeys in Noah’s ark mosaic, Huqoq. / Courtesy

Donkeys in Noah’s ark mosaic, Huqoq. / Courtesy

Excavations have continued in the synagogue every summer since the first mosaics were found in 2012. Since then, mosaics depicting Samson and the foxes (as related in the Bible’s Judges 15:4), Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his shoulders (Judges 16:3), and a scene containing a Hebrew inscription surrounded by human figures, animals and mythological creatures have been uncovered.

The first non-biblical mosaic found in an ancient synagogue also was discovered at Huqoq, showing the legendary meeting between Alexander the Great and the Jewish high priest.

The mosaics have been removed from the site for conservation, and the excavated areas have been backfilled. Financial support for the 2016 excavations was provided by the National Geographic Society and the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture.

Excavations are scheduled to continue in the summer of 2017. For information and updates about the site and excavation, visit www.Huqoq.org.

Nathan Elkins, Ph.D. / Courtesy

Nathan Elkins, Ph.D. / Courtesy

In addition to working with the excavation, Elkins has advocated for protecting ancient coins from looting and smuggling. He recently spoke at the Public Hearing of the Cultural Property Advisory Committee at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, DC He urged that the Memoranda of Understanding be renewed to prevent thefts of undocumented ancient coins and antiquities from Greece into the United States.

JNi.Media

New York’s Oldest Congregation to Appeal Ruling on Newport Synagogue $7.4 Million Grab

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

New York Congregation Shearith Israel, the oldest Jewish congregation in the US, announced it would appeal to the 1st US Circuit Court of Appeals last month’s ruling by US District Court Judge Jack McConnell in Providence that the Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island is the rightful owner of very expensive silver Torah ornaments. Judge McConnell also severed the ownership of the NY congregation over the Newport synagogue building.

Back in May, Federal Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ruled in favor of congregation Jeshuat Israel which resides in Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, and against Shearith Israel of New York which had claimed ownership of the edifice and its contents.

The $7.4 million dispute between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations erupted in 2011, when the Newport Touro synagogue congregation, known as Jeshuat Israel (Heb: salvation of Israel), offered to sell the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston two silver Torah ornaments called “rimonim” (Heb: pomegranates) for $7.4 million. But the ornaments, like the rest of the synagogue, were the property of Congregation Shearith Israel, currently residing on West 70th Street in New York, and they were not amused when they heard of the sale.

Members of the Newport congregation told the court that the reason they had to sell the ornaments—which were made by Jewish American Silversmith Myer Myers (1723-1795)—was that their numbers were starting to dwindle and they could no longer afford to pay a rabbi.

Shearith Israel trustee Michael Katz testified that “we were aghast that they were doing this without informing us in advance. We considered it a violation of the lease. We considered it a violation of trust, and it upset us very, very much.”

According to AP, Congregation Shearith Israel on Tuesday issued a five-page statement disputing McConnell’s ruling: “Shearith Israel’s goal has been and remains to ensure that the Touro Synagogue, including the precious rimonim, remains intact, available for the continued use of Jews as an active place of worship and the continuous benefit of all people of faith as well as all those touched by its rich and inspiring history,” the statement said.

Back in the early 1900s, the NY congregation leased the Touro building to a newcomer Jewish congregation in Newport for $1 a year (which, in today’s value, comes to $1.87). They didn’t believe this generous lease empowered the tenants to sell off parts of the synagogue, and certainly not its multi-million dollar artifacts.

JNi.Media

Preparing for Shavuot

Friday, June 10th, 2016

Shul Shavuot

Photo of the Day

Ukraine Intelligence Foils Plan to Attack French Synagogues, Mosques During Euro 2016

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Ukraine intelligence officials have foiled a terror plot to attack Jewish and Muslim houses of worship during the UEFA Euro 2016 international soccer tournament in France.

A 25-year-old nationalist French terrorist, Gregoire M., was arrested Monday on Ukraine’s border with Poland by the country’s State Security Service (SBU).

Under interrogation the suspect revealed that he had acquired a massive arsenal with which to carry out some 15 planned attacks during the games.

SBU chief Vasyl Hrytsak told a news conference the suspect possessed guns, detonators and 125 kilos of TNT explosives with which to target mosques and synagogues.

“The Frenchman spoke negatively about his government’s actions, mass immigration, the spread of Islam and globalization, and also talked about plans to carry out several terrorist attacks,” Hrytsak told journalists.

He had made contact with illegal armed groups in Ukraine, according to the SBU chief, in order to purchase weapons and explosives.

Hana Levi Julian

NJ Resident Convicted of Setting Fire to Synagogue, Rabbi’s Home

Sunday, May 29th, 2016

Lodi, NJ, resident Anthony Graziano, 24, on Friday was found guilty on 20 counts of terrorism and faces up to life in prison, for vandalizing and firebombing Jewish synagogues and a rabbi’s home in 2012. Graziano’s sentencing will take place in July. Graziano was charged together with his friend, Aakash Dalal.

The two attackers started a fire in the Rutherford, NJ bedroom of a rabbi, who was asleep at the time, as were his wife, their five children and the rabbi’s parents.

Graziano’s attorney argued that his client did not wish to harm anyone, and he plans to appeal.

David Israel

Judge Awards Newport, RI Synagogue to Congregation Despite NY Landlord’s Claim

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Federal Judge John J. McConnell Jr. ruled in favor of Jeshuat Israel which resides in Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI, and against Shearith Israel of New York which had claimed ownership of the edifice and its contents, the NY Times reported Monday.

The $7.4 million dispute between two of America’s oldest Jewish congregations erupted in 2011, when the Newport Touro synagogue congregation, known as Jeshuat Israel (Heb: salvation of Israel), offered to sell the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston two silver Torah ornaments called “rimonim” (Heb: pomegranates) for $7.4 million. But the ornaments, like the rest of the synagogue, were the property of Congregation Shearith Israel, currently residing on West 70th Street in New York, and they were not amused when they heard of the sale.

Shearith Israel trustee Michael Katz testified that “we were aghast that they were doing this without informing us in advance. We considered it a violation of the lease. We considered it a violation of trust, and it upset us very, very much.”

Back in the early 1900s, the NY congregation leased the Touro building to a newcomer Jewish congregation in Newport for $1 a year (which, in today’s value, comes to $1.87). They didn’t believe this generous lease empowered the tenants to sell off parts of the synagogue.

Bea Ross, of the Newport congregation, testified that she had informed Katz of the sale, but not directly. In 2009, there was a Forward article about the sale of the rimonim, and she and Katz talked about it over the phone. Apparently, that call didn’t leave as much of an impression on Katz.

The $7.4 million rimonim / Newmans, Ltd. report

The $7.4 million rimonim / Newmans, Ltd. report

Members of the Newport congregation told the court that the reason they had to sell the ornaments—which were made by Jewish American Silversmith Myer Myers (1723-1795)—was that their numbers were starting to dwindle and they could no longer afford to pay a rabbi.

Rabbi Marc Mandel, formerly the associate rabbi of Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills, Ca. has been the Jeshuat Israel spiritual leader since 2011.

Incidentally, the reason the NY congregation has owned the Newport synagogue in the first place had to do with the declining numbers of Newport’s Jews in the late 18th century, when Shearith Israel took over the building and remained its caretaker as it stood empty for almost a hundred years.

Katz told the court that his congregation saw itself as strictly the landlord of the Newport synagogue, and not responsible for its financial problems (they had come asking for help).

On the face of it, the case looked like it should have gone to the New York congregation, but the local paper, Times Argus, reported prior to the trial that the state of Rhode Island was monitoring the case and planned to intervene with the judge to make sure “justice would be done.” Now the ruling has cleared the way for Jeshuat Israel to sell the rimonim, valued at $7.4 million—there are 130 members left in the congregation, so “justice” in this case could net them $57,000 each, before court costs. Or it could pay the rabbi’s salary and maintenance.

“The central issue here is the legacy of some of the earliest Jewish settlers in North America, who desired to make Newport a permanent haven for public Jewish worship,” Judge McConnell wrote in a 106-page decision, disregarding the fact that said legacy had been interrupted for as long as a century, and that what he facilitated was the removing of $7.4 million from the possession of a New York congregation, its legal owner, and handing it over to a local group that couldn’t pay its own way.

JNi.Media

Suitcase Bomb Scare at Oslo Synagogue

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

Oslo Police closed off a large area surrounding the Jewish society Det Mosaiske Trossamfund’s synagogue on Friday morning and sent in a bomb squad, in response to a suitcase that had been left outside the synagogue at around 4 AM, The Local reported. Surrounding streets were blocked off, but Police did not at any point evacuate the area, which includes a school and a daycare center.

They were able to call off the alarm shortly after 11 AM.

“The suitcase turned out to be empty. The barricades will remain on Bergstien. Other roadblocks have been removed. No suspect in the case. The case is closed,” Oslo Police tweeted.

Police said that video surveillance cameras recorded a man, described as dark-skinned and dressed in dark clothing, placing the bag at the entrance to the synagogue.

“The timing and the location are what make us want to investigate the suitcase. We are assuming that there could be anything in that suitcase,” a police spokesman told broadcaster NRK.

Det Mosaiske Trossamfund board member Michael Grizman thanked police for their “quick reaction.” He told news agency NTB that Police “handled the situation in a good way and all the necessary precautions were taken.”

Friday’s incident was the second time police has had to send a bomb squad to the Oslo synagogue. In March 2015 a man was seen running out of a building across the street from the synagogue, then leaving a bag outside the edifice. The bag turned out not to contain anything dangerous.

However, in September 2006 shots were fired at the synagogue, and since then Police have stepped-up patrols in the area.

JNi.Media

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/suitcase-bomb-scare-at-oslo-synagogue/2016/05/15/

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