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Israeli Soldiers Rediscover Ancient Gaza Synagogue

IDF Soldiers During Hamas War Pray in Ancient Gaza Synagogue for First Time in Decades!

While Israel’s current war against Hamas has caused more than a share of heartbreak and pain, Israelis are always living for the happy, positive moments. And one such happy, astounding moment was hearing reports of IDF soldiers who are stationed in Gaza praying at an ancient synagogue that has been off-limits to Israelis for decades!

Read more about this amazing story and the synagogue’s special significance below!

Mosaic of King David from ancient Gaza synagogue, restored by Israeli archeologists and today housed at the Museum of the Good Samaritan in the West Bank (Photo: Avishai Teicher/Wikipedia PikiWiki Israel license CC BY 2.5)

 

Last month, a number of posts on social media had reported that IDF soldiers in Gaza had rediscovered and prayed at a centuries-old synagogue there, a place that had already been familiar to Israeli scholars but inaccessible to Jews or Israelis in any way for nearly twenty years.

Due to security reasons no photos of the event were shared, but according to Michael Freund, a columnist for the Jerusalem Post, "For the first time in decades, Israeli soldiers prayed in the ancient synagogue in Gaza, which was built in the 6th century and where a beautiful mosaic floor depicting King David was unearthed years ago."

This exciting piece of news has inspired and energized the Israeli public, as the poignant symbolism of Israeli soldiers bringing Jewish prayer and ritual once again to one of our ancient places in the historic Land of Israel is truly remarkable!

Read on below for the historical background of this special synagogue, and check out our Land of Israel jewelry to wear your connection to our ancient homeland every day!

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Decorative floor mosaic from ancient Gaza synagogue, today kept at the Museum of the Good Samaritan in the West Bank (Photo: Avishai Teicher/Wikipedia PikiWiki Israel license CC BY 2.5)

 

The ancient synagogue of Gaza dates back to 508 CE and is located in what was a bustling port city at the time known as "Maiuma" or El Mineh, today in the Rimal district of Gaza City. It was discovered in 1965 by Egyptian archaeologists and came under Israeli control following the 1967 Six-Day War.

Both Hebrew and Greek writing was incorporated into the building's decor, in addition to Greek and Byzantine artistic influences. The synagogue stands as an important testament of Jewish life in the Land of Israel in the 6th century, showing a Jewish presence even after the Roman expulsions centuries prior.

The synagogue also had stunning, intricate floor mosaics of animals and natural life as well as one of King David playing the harp and featuring Hebrew lettering. After the discovery some of the mosaics were deliberately damaged and vandalized in antisemitic attacks, and so after 1967 they were moved to Jerusalem for restoration by scholars at the Israel Musem. Today they are displayed at the Museum of the Good Samaritan near Ma'ale Adumim in the West Bank.

Relocating the historic and magnificent mosaics ended up being a wise move, as the site of the Gaza synagogue itself has been inaccessible to Jews since the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza in 2005. That makes the rediscovery of the site by IDF soldiers all the more special, particularly as confirmation that it is remarkably still standing today!

Are you inspired by ancient Jewish history and by the brave defenders of Israel today? Show your pride with our Israel Army Gifts and Support Israel Collection!

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