שבת ט' בכסלו תשפ"ג 03/12/2022
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  • The Mission Continues

    As in the past so it remains today - we were and still are under the selfsame commitment to adhere to the directions of the Gedolei Yisrael, who stand guard against breaches of purity threatening our camp. When we were required to ask – we asked. When we were instructed to depart – we left. The moment we are summoned back to raise the flag, every other consideration is pushed to the side and we answer: We are ready!

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בראי היום

  • Harav Yisrael Friedman zy”a, the Rebbe of Husyatin

    מוטי, ויקיפדיה העברית

    The ancestral chain of Harav Yisrael Friedman, the founder of the Husyatin chassidic court, originates with the holy Baal Shem Tov. The Husyatin chassidus has its roots in Galicia and eventually came to Tel Aviv, during the turbulent years between the two World Wars.

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  • Maccabi'im Gravesite

    In honour of Chanukah, we will discuss a fascinating, ongoing investigation attempting to establish the place of burial of Mattisyahu Kohen Gadol and his family.

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In Jewish Sites

Ein Gedi – Chatzatzon Tamar

The ancient synagogue discovered in the Ein Gedi reserve was first discovered in the year 5725, during the course of an archeological dig at the site. The mosaic floor of the synagogue was unearthed, as was a cache of ancient coins.

Mordechai Zeevi 11/05/2009 12:00
In the Ein Gedi reserve, between the rivers David and Arugot, flows the Ein Gedi stream, from the top of the hill. At the foot of the hill is located the antiquities site known as ‘Tel Goren’; here, it seems, was situated the ancient community of Ein Gedi.
During the course of the digging at the site, the remains of homes were uncovered, and also barrels and ovens. At the border of the settlement, a little to the east, remains of the ancient synagogue of the town of Ein Gedi were discovered.
Ein Gedi is one of the most ancient towns known in the world. The first reference to it is in the Torah, in Sefer Bereishis, in the context of Avrohom Avinu’s war against the kings. There it is written; “and also the Emori who dwell in Chatzatzon Tamar”, which Onkelos translates as “and also the Emori who dwell in Ein Gedi”. Ein Gedi is also mentioned as the place in which King David hid from King Shaul. It appears that Ein Gedi was inhabited by Jews from the time of King David until the time of the bar Kochva revolt. After the destruction of the Second Temple, Jewish settlement there was reestablished; the ancient synagogue there discovered dates back to those times.

The ancient synagogue was discovered in the year 5725 by chance, by a farmer who was ploughing his field. Five years later a comprehensive archeological investigation was made at the site, during which a cache of five thousand coins from the fourth century ce was found, and also the remains of the ancient synagogue. Almost nothing had survived of the synagogue’s walls. On the eastern wall of the building was carved out a place for the head of the community. Originally, the entrance to the synagogue had been on the northern side; at a later stage, an additional entrance was built on the southern side. Shortly before the synagogue was destroyed, in the sixth century ce, it was expanded, with additional rooms built and benches added. Remnants of the bimah were also discovered, which appeared to have served to hold the sefer Torah. But the main discovery of the dig was that of the mosaic floor, which was clearly the work of a master craftsman.

This mosaic floor was decorated with ornate borders and designed with geometric shapes, triangular and rectangular; also featured are pictures of birds, flowers and the seven-branched menora. In other parts of the synagogue additional mosaics were found, with various inscriptions written on them. These mosaics are currently housed in the Rockefeller museum in Jerusalem. The writings inscribed include the names of the months and their astrological signs, under which is written; “Chanania, Mishael and Azaria, peace unto Israel”. A list of the generations from Adam haRishon until Yefes ben Noach also appears, and the mosaic also includes the names of those who had donated to the building. Another writing discovered there is a terrible curse, written in Aramaic, against any person who caused strife, spoke badly of another Jew, or who revealed the ‘secret of the village’. It is presumed that this ‘secret of the village’ was a carefully-guarded method of extracting persimmon oil, which was a local skill that brought much wealth to those who possessed the knowledge. The curse includes the phrase; “the One Whose Eyes roam over all the land, Who sees all that is hidden, He will turn His Head towards that person and his descendants, to uproot them from under the heavens. And all the people will answer Amen Amen Sela.”

It appears that the synagogue burned down in a fire in the sixth century ce, and the neighbouring houses of the settlement were destroyed together with it.

Today, there exists a kibbutz by the name of Ein Gedi, approximately a kilometer south of the site of ancient Ein Gedi. On the actual site of the ancient town there is now a nature reserve, which encompasses the rivers David, Arugot, Shulamit and Ein Gedi, and also the ancient site of Tel Goren and the remains of the ancient synagogue.