25 September 2017 - 5 Tishri 5778 - ה' תשרי ה' אלפים תשע"ח
Excavations reveal 2,000-year-old stone-vessel quarry E-mail

Arare workshop for the production of chalkstone vessels, dated to the Roman period, is currently being excavated at Reina in Lower Galilee, Israel.

Excavations are unearthing a small cave in which archaeologists have found thousands of chalkstone cores and other types of production waste, including fragments of stone mugs and bowls in various stages of production. The discovery provides fascinating evidence of the central place of ritual purity in the daily lives of Galilean Jews during the time of Jesus.

The ancient site was uncovered during the course of construction work at a municipal sports centre conducted by the Reina local council. This is the fourth workshop of its kind ever to have been uncovered in Israel; an additional workshop is currently being excavated near Reina, located one kilometre from the current site. The two remaining known sites were uncovered decades ago far to the south, in the Jerusalem area.

According to Dr Yonatan Adler, Senior Lecturer at Ariel University and director of the excavations on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, “In ancient times, most tableware, cooking pots and storage jars were made of pottery. In the first century of the Common Era, however, Jews throughout Judea and Galilee also used tableware and storage vessels made of soft, local chalkstone.”

As Adler explained, the reason for this curious choice of material seems to have been religious. “According to ancient Jewish ritual law, vessels made of pottery are easily made impure and must be broken. Stone, on the other hand, was thought to be a material which can never become ritually impure, and as a result ancient Jews began to produce some of their everyday tableware from stone. Although chalkstone vessels are well-known at many Jewish sites throughout the country, it is extremely unusual to uncover a site where such vessels where actually produced. Today we are excavating a second site near Reina, located one kilometre from here. Until today, only two other similar sites have been excavated, however both of these were in the area of Jerusalem. Our excavations are highlighting the pivotal role of ritual purity observance not only in Jerusalem but in far-off Galilee as well.”

The excavations have revealed an artificially hewn cave from which ancient workers quarried the raw material for the chalkstone vessels. Ancient chisel marks cover the walls, ceiling and floor of the cave. Inside the cave and on the ground nearby are strewn thousands of stone cores, the ancient industrial waste from stone mugs and bowls produced on a lathe. Hundreds of unfinished vessels were also found, apparently damaged during the production process and discarded on-site.

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Yom Kippur – our fate is sealed E-mail

Yom Kippur the Day of Atonememt is the most holiest day of the Jewish year. The day falls on 10 Tishrei, which is ten days after Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

The ten days between the two Jewish holidays are meant to be days of awe and deep introspection. On Yom Kippur, G-d seals our fate for the coming year. The entire day is spent fasting and praying to G-d for forgiveness and a good year ahead. We refrain from work, fast and attend synagogue services.

It is a day set aside to “afflict the soul,” to atone for the sins of the past year. This day is, essentially, our last appeal and our last chance to change the judgment, to demonstrate our repentance and make amends so we may be sealed in the book of life.

Yom Kippur atones not only for sins between man and G-d, but also for sins against another person. To atone for sins against another person, one must first seek reconciliation with that person and righting the wrongs committed against them if possible. This is best done before Yom Kippur.

Yom Kippur appears in the following verses in the Torah. “In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and you shall not do any work... For on that day he shall provide atonement for you to cleanse you from all your sins before the L-rd.” Leviticus 16:29-30.

Observance to Fast

We refrain from eating any food or drink on Yom Kippur. The 25-hour fast begins before sunset on the evening before Yom Kippur and ends after nightfall on the day of Yom Kippur. The Talmud also specifies additional restrictions such as: washing and bathing, anointing one’s body (with cosmetics, deodorants), wearing leather shoes, and engaging in sexual relations.

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Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, research reveals E-mail

Jews are the world’s most-educated religious group, with an average of more than 13 years of formal schooling, according to a new study published in December.

The study, undertaken by the Pew Research Center, a USbased non-partisan “fact tank”, found that Jews worldwide have four years more of schooling on average than the next-most-educated group, Christians, who average about nine years of schooling.

One important note in the research relates to both religion and region matter for educational attainment. Within the world’s major religious groups, there are often large variations in educational attainment depending on the country or region of the world in which adherents live.

Muslims in Europe, for example, have more years of schooling, on average, than Muslims in the Middle East. This is because education levels are affected by many factors other than religion, including socioeconomic conditions, government resources and migration policies, the presence or absence of armed conflict and the prevalence of child labor and marriage. At the same time, this study finds that even under the same regional or national conditions, there often are differences in education attainment among those within religious groups.

Muslims and Hindus are the least-educated religious groups, each with about 5 1/2 years of formal schooling. The global average is less than eight years.

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