Cultural Postcards + [Near East]

Israel: Funds needed to preserve ancient synagogue in Israel
At least $60 million will be needed to refurbish a historic synagogue from the 1st century, which was discovered on a land owned by the Vatican a while ago in northwestern Israel during the construction of a hotel.

Funds needed to preserve ancient synagogue in Israel
The ruins of the synagogue were found near Lake Galilee in northwestern Israel 
during construction of a five-star hotel [Credit: AA]

Appointed by the Vatican to Jerusalem, the priest Juan Maria Solana told The Anadolu Agency that more than $40 million has been spent and hundreds of volunteers had been working in the area to preserve the synagogue.

Another $60 million are needed for work to continue, he said.

The ruins of the synagogue were found near Lake Galilee in northwestern Israel, when construction workers began digging in order to build a five-star hotel at the edge of the lake, Juan Maria Solana told the Anadolu Agency.

“The Vatican began the construction of a hotel for Christian pilgrims coming to Jerusalem and came upon a historic synagogue, while digging,” said Juan Maria Solana.

Solana, while showing AA correspondent around the site, said that the Israeli government had told the Vatican to preserve the synagogue and to communicate their findings.

“While excavating, we found two rocks with a symbol of Judaism and a seven-branch menorah, in what later turned out to be a part of the hall of a synagogue,” the priest said. “Jews would open and read the Torah on these rocks.”

Solana said coins from the times of King Herod, from 29 A.D., had also been found onsite. “We had no doubt it was a synagogue from the 1st century,” he said.

The Israeli government has allowed the Vatican to continue with the construction of the hotel, as long as it would preserve the synagogue and open a museum.

Source: AA [November 17, 2014]