Judaism

Bridge to Jewish past found in Vilnius, Lithuania

Excavations of the 16th century Great Synagogue in Vilnius, Lithuania, have uncovered the site of the Aron Kodesh, or Holy Ark, along with "part of the original floor, and the top of one of the four pillars surrounding the bima."

Bodies found in well tell story of Medieval persecution

Seventeen skeletons found in a well in Norwich, England are the suspected victims of an anti-Jewish massacre. DNA and other analysis has shown that the six adults and eleven children were part of the same family and date to the 12th or 13th century.

Washington Haggadah centerpiece of Hebrew manuscripts at the Met

In celebration of Passover, Edward Rothstein of the New York Times discusses the reading of the Haggadah represented by the Washington Haggadah, a manuscript from 1478 on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through June 26, 2011. (slide show)

Preserving historic manuscripts passion of Minnesota monks

Central Minnesota is the home of Hill Museum at St. John's Abbey, an unlikely site for the world's largest collection of historic religious manuscripts. Ray Suarez of PBS Newshour interviews Father Columba Stewart, director of the museum. (video)

Medieval kosher feast in the East

In medieval Spain Moslims, Christians and Jews lived together in relative peace. SCA members recently brought a taste of Jewish life in the Middle Ages to the Reconstructionist Temple Beth Israel in Maywood, New Jersey. Susan Joy Clark of NorthJersey.com has the story.

"Convivencia" explored in Second Life

In 2007, Rita J. King and Joshua Fouts collaborated to create Al-Andalus, a virtual Alhambra, on Second Life, in order to explore the concept of Convivencia, the "Spanish term for the harmonious 'living together' of Muslims, Christians and Jews in the southern Iberian Peninsula during the Islamic caliphat." (photos)

Medieval synagogue discovered under English fast food shop

Archaeologists have found the remains of a medieval synagogue beneath Kebabish, a fast food restaurant, in Northamptonshire, England.

A visit to Jewish China

A New York Times article by Matthew Fishbane tells the story of the author's trip to Kaifeng in search of remnants of of one China's medieval Jewish communities.

"Song of the Sea" pages reunited in Jerusalem

Two fragments of a 7th century biblical manuscript of the Song of the Sea, a triumphant hymn to the destruction of the Egyptian Army and the freeing of the Israelites, have been reunited for an exhibit at Israel's national museum.

Medieval Jewish books focus of Bodleian Library exhibit

From December 8, 2009 to May 3, 2010, the Bodleian Library at Oxford University will host Crossing Borders: Hebrew Manuscripts as a Meeting-place of Cultures, "which tells the story of how Jews, Christians and Muslims have together contributed to the development of the book as an object of great cultural importance."

Minnesota professor to receive grant for medieval globalization research

University of Minnesota professor Susan Noakes has received a US$70,000 grant for two years for a project entitled “Globalization of the Middle Ages.” The research will be funded by the university's Imagine Fund.

Nuremberg Mahzor on display at the Israel Museum

In celebration of Rosh Hashana, the Jewish new Year, officials at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem are displaying the Nuremberg Mahzor, a 14th century collection of "handwritten Ashkenazi, or northern European, prayers and liturgical poems." The manuscript is considered the largest surviving text of its kind with only 7 of its 528 pages missing.

First known Jewish temple found in Lycia

Archaeologists excavating the ancient port city of Andriake in Lycia have discovered what they believe is the "first archaeological trace of Jewish culture" found in the area. They believe the temple was one of the earliest built after a 212 C.E. law allowed Jews to become Roman citizen.

13th century Jewish remains returned to earth in Spain

Negotiations between the Spanish government and Jewish leaders concluded recently with the reburial of more than 100 medieval Jews whose final resting places were disturbed during construction of a school in Toledo, Spain.

Levenger offers Sarajevo Haggadah facsimile

The Levenger Company has produced a facsimile of the Sarajevo Haggadah, a 14th century Spanish prayer book and the oldest haggadah known. The original found its way to Sarajevo, and was saved by an Islamic scholar during World War II.

650-year-old perfume bottle survives the Black Death

Maev Kennedy takes a tour around the treasures of the Black Death exhibition at The Wallace Collection, London, including a tiny perfume bottle that was owned by a victim of a superstitious anti-plague pogrom.

Jewish treasures on display in England

The Treasures of the Black Death exhibit at London's Wallace Collection showcase two hoards of medieval jewelry dating to the 14th century. The treasures were owned - and buried with - Jewish families who perished during the Black Plague. (photos)

Re-created Israeli village teaches history to children

In the village of Kfar halfway between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, children learn about Israel of 2,000 years ago and the Hanukkah story with the help of historic re-enactors. The village also features activities for kids such as harvesting olives and making oil.

DNA proves morisco mark on Spain

500 years after the Inquisition expelled many Moors from Spain, DNA proves that their "genetic legacy" is still strong, according to Professor Mark Jobling, of the University of Leicester.

Sotheby's auction catalogue offers delights

On December 8, 2008, Sotheby's Auction House in London will be auctioning a number of western and oriental manuscripts. A catalogue of the items with closeups and descriptions is available to view online.

"Manuscript sleuths" try to crack secrets of ancient Jewish books

Detective work comes in all forms, including those willing to intensely study ancient Jewish manuscripts looking for clues to the past. This work is chronicled in the recent novel People of the Book.

Arr-veh!

Author Edward Kritzler, author of a new book Jewish Pirates of the Caribbean: How a Generation of Swashbuckling Jews Carved Out an Empire in the New World in Their Quest for Treasure, Religious Freedom — and Revenge has probably heard all the jokes about Jewish pirates, but he has the last laugh. Benjamin Ivry of the Jewish Daily Forward has a review.

Dead Sea Scrolls come to the ROM in 2009

The Royal Ontario Museum has announced that it will bring sixteen of the Dead Sea Scrolls to Toronto for an exhibit which will run June 27, 2009, until Jan. 3, 2010.

Russian archaeologists find Khazar capital

Archaeologists from Astrakhan State University believe they have discovered the long-lost capital of the Khazar kingdom in southern Russia. The Khazars were a semi-nomadic people who converted to Judaism between the 8th and 10th centuries.

Medieval synagogue speaks of Jewish history in Vienna

The 15th century forced conversion of Vienna's Jews led to the community's expulsion from the city, but now archaeologists have discovered the remains of the walls and foundations of the Viennese Synagogue destroyed in 1421.

300 rare Jewish books returned to Israel from Iraq

300 rare Jewish books, confiscated from Iraq's Jewish community during the regime of Saddam Hussein, have been returned to Israel. The works included a 15th century commentary on the biblical Book of Job.

The mystery of the missing skeletons

Dozens of skeletons, thought to be Muslim and dating from the 8th or 9th centuries C.E, have been removed from the site of excavations near the Temple Mount according to the Israel Antiquities Authority who have deemed the incident "a serious mishap."

3rd century amulet places Jews in Austria

A gold amulet dating to the 3rd century CE inscribed with a Jewish prayer has been discovered in the grave of a Roman child in Halbturn, Austria proving that people of the Jewish faith inhabited the country at the time.

“People of the Book" filled with "danger, oppression and high drama"

In a review for the New York Times, Janet Maslin discusses People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, a novel about book preservation that revolves around the discovery of a medieval Haggadah, an illuminated manuscript which describes the Jewish Passover Seder.

Byzantine-era synagogue sheds light on Jewish life

Jewish scholars are having to rethink opinions about life and culture in early Byzantine times after the discovery of a 5th century synagogue, complete with elaborate mosaic floors.