Ancient synagogue in northern Israel vandalized

It’s not the first time that the synagogue, a focal pilgrimage site, has been damaged, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority.

By World Israel News Staff

An ancient synagogue was vandalized in northern Israel, according to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA), who filed a complaint on Monday.

The vandals sprayed-painted graffiti on the ancient synagogue in the Mount Meron nature reserve, near the tomb of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, a second-century rabbi credited with writing the Zohar. His views appear throughout the Mishnah and Talmud.

“This holy place will not be desecrated. You have been warned,” was graffitied in red on one of the stone walls. “There will not be an archaeological park here. Mount Meron is not abandoned. Be warned.”

The synagogue in Meron is one of the largest ancient synagogues in Upper Galilee. It is said to be about 2,000 years old and has been a focal point for pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

“There is no apparent reason or rational basis behind the spray painting of these inscriptions,” Uri Berger, an archaeologist for the Antiquities Authority, said after reporting the incident.

“This is not the first time that this site, which was preserved by the Israel Antiquities Authority only a few years ago, has been vandalized,” he said, adding that “the damage to synagogues by non-Jews in the Diaspora is painful enough, but when it is done by our own people here in the Land of Israel it is inconceivable.”

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The IAA has worked to conserve the synagogue with an effort in 2014, funded by the Prime Minister’s Office, during which walls were strengthened and graffiti was removed.