Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A LATE-ANTIQUE SYNAGOGUE in the Golan is profiled by Stephen Gabriel Rosenberg in the Jerusalem Post. Excerpt:
Today on the Golan, the greatest Jewish interest centers on the synagogues, which number as many as 25. Some have been largely renovated, like that of Katzrin, but one of the most fascinating stands in ruins at Umm el-Kanatir, and is now being carefully reconstructed stone by stone by engineer Yeshu Drei and archeologist Haim Ben-David of the Kinneret Academic College and Bar-Ilan University.

Drei has erected a giant mobile crane on the site and plans to lift all the remaining black basalt stones, which have been carefully numbered from one to more than 2,000, into position within the next two years.

The work has been going on apace for some five years and, when complete, it will be a fine monument to the skill of the original builders of the fifth and sixth centuries CE and the meticulous reconstructors of today. It already gives us today an impressive picture of what the synagogue must have been like in the past.
The ruin has some points of interest, including an engraving of a man sticking his tongue out at the viewer and, perhaps, some early evidence for a Hanukkah Menorah (cf. here).