What’s Really in the Vatican Library?

Vatican LibraryDisspelling some misconconceptions about the Vatican’s collections of Jewish manuscripts

I cannot tell you how many times I have been asked whether the Vatican has the menorah from the Beis Hamikdash. (The answer is no.) But I am never asked about the more then 600 Hebrew manuscripts they do have, which have been available to the scholarly community for years.

Read the rest of What’s Really in the Vatican Library? in Ami Magazine.

Clues from the Past

Clues from the Past - Hamat Teveryah

By Bukvoed – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15055637

The ruins of ancient synagogues reveal secrets that explain our traditions

The story of archaeology in Eretz Yisrael began in 1920-21 when Nahum Slouschz (1872-1966), under the auspices of the Jewish Palestine Exploration Society, undertook the excavation of one of the two ancient synagogues at Hamat Teveryah, just south of the city of Tiberias. This was a watershed event, as it was the first archaeological dig conducted under Jewish auspices. Yes, the first Jewish dig was a shul! This synagogue stood at the southern end of the city on the shore of the Kineret. It may have been built as early as 250 CE but was expanded in the fourth to fifth centuries and seems to have been in use up until the 11th century. Today, the remains of this synagogue are under a hotel.

Read more of Clues from the Past in Ami Magazine.


Dura-EuroposIn a museum in Damascus, the remnants of a shul from the 3rd century CE linger, telling secrets of our history.

Sadly, the last vestiges of the ancient Jewish communities of Syria and Iraq, those remnants that had survived the riots that ensued with the creation of the State of Israel in 1948 and its victory over the Arabs in 1967, have come to what is probably a permanent end. Yet these countries still have enormous treasures of Jewish archaeology and history that are in danger of destruction and that, in any case, very few of us will ever see. Can you believe this irony of history? The decorated walls, including the artwork surrounding the aron kodesh on the western wall, facing Yerushalayim, of a third century CE shul building from the ancient city of Dura-Europos, sits in a museum in Damascus.

Read the rest of Dura-Europos in Ami Magazine.