A Meeting about the Mount

Western Wall, Meeting about a MountThere really is an ivory tower. Academic scholarship can sometimes rise completely above the political fray and bring scholars together in order to seek truth. It was a group of such scholars that gathered just a few weeks ago at Providence College, a Dominican Catholic institution with strong long-term ties to the Jewish community, in Providence, Rhode Island. Under the leadership of Joan Branham of Providence College, an art history professor who is an associate dean, and Beatrice St. Laurent of Bridgewater State University, 29 international scholars—Jewish, Christian and Muslim—gathered to talk about the history and archaeology of the Har Habayis. The conference was entitled “Marking the Sacred: The Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif in Jerusalem.” The conference was also attended by a larger audience of Providence faculty, colleagues from other universities, and the local community. Along with the conference, the college’s museum presented a beautiful exhibition of rare photographs of the Har Habayis since the 19th century.

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The Magdala Stone

Magdala StoneThe Jews of Rome and the authorities of the Vatican seem to have decided that if so many people believe that the Vatican has the Menorah in its possession, they might as well capitalize on this “urban myth,” as it has been described by Rome’s Chief Rabbi Riccardo Di Segni. They decided to put together a joint exhibition, with part of it in the Jewish Museum of Rome, near the Great Synagogue, and the other part in the Vatican Museum in Vatican City. This reminds me of a meeting I attended years ago at the Vatican Museum, where the then director jokingly pointed to a modern Israeli chanukiyah and said, “See, we have the Menorah!” The myth will never die, but the decision to hold this exhibit, aptly entitled “Menorah: Cult, History and Myth,” has certainly been a wonderful result of its longevity.

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Remembering Louis H. Feldman


Louis FeldmanOn 27 Adar, March 25, the world’s greatest expert on the writings of the first-century Jewish historian, Flavius Josephus, left this world at the age of 90. Professor Louis Feldman, a”h, taught Classics at Yeshiva University for over 60 years. If you would have asked him what his greatest accomplishment was, he would have pointed to his many students who occupied positions as professors, rabbis, and roshei yeshivah. Indeed, he was privileged to teach generations of those who went on to serve as rabbinic and intellectual leaders of the Jewish community.

Professor Feldman would not have bragged about his amazing contribution to scholarship and its importance for Judaic Studies and ancient literature and history.

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