Seals from Judean Kingdom Period Shed Light on Life in Ancient Jerusalem

By: Daniel Eisenbud;

Some of the seals are inscribed with biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinchas.

A complete seal bearing the name “Achiav Ben Menachem.”. (photo credit:ISRAELI ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY/ CLARA AMIT)

A rare collection of ancient seals inscribed with the names of officials dating to the Judean Kingdom prior to the Babylonian destruction has been unearthed near the Old City’s walls during excavations conducted by the Antiquities Authority.

Dozens of seals, made of small pieces of clay used to officially close letters, were well preserved in the City of David and serve as evidence of their owners.

According to Ortal Chalaf and Dr. Joe Uziel, directors of the excavation funded by the Ir David Foundation (Elad), the seals illustrate the advanced administrative underpinnings of Jerusalem during the First Temple period.

“The earliest seals bear mostly a series of pictures,” the archeologists said on Monday.

“It appears that instead of writing the names of the clerks, symbols were used to show who the signatory was, or what he was sealing.”

Dr. Joe Uziel with ancient seals at the City of David. (Eliyahu Yania/ The City of David)

During later stages of the period – from the time of King Hezekiah (approximately 700 BCE) and up to the destruction of Jerusalem, in 586 BCE – the seals bear the names of clerks in early Hebrew script.

“Through these findings, we learn not only about the developed administrative systems in the city, but also about the residents and those who served in the civil service,” they noted.

Some of the seals are inscribed with biblical names, several of which are still used today, such as Pinhas.

“One particularly interesting seal mentions a man by the name of Ahiav Ben Menahem,” they said.

“These two names are known in the context of the Kingdom of Israel: Menahem was a king of Israel, while Ahiav does not appear in the Bible, but his name resembles that of Ahav [Ahab] – the infamous king of Israel from the tales of the prophet Elijah.”

Although the spelling of the name, “Ahiav,” differs somewhat from “Ahav,” they said it appears to be the same name.

“The version of the name that appears on the seal discovered, Ahiav, appears as well in the Book of Jeremiah in the Septuagint, as well as in Flavius Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews 15:7-8),” they said.

Chalaf and Uziel added that the appearance of the name “Ahiav” is interesting for two main reasons.

“First, because it serves as further testimony to the names that are familiar to us from the Kingdom of Israel in the Bible, and which appear in Judah during the period following the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel,” they said.

“These names are part of the evidence that after the exile of the Tribes of Israel, refugees arrived in Jerusalem from the northern kingdom, and found their way into senior positions in Jerusalem’s administration.”

While Ahab is portrayed as a negative figure in the Bible, his name continues to be in use, albeit in a differently spelled version.

“It was used both in Judea during the latter days of the First Temple, as reflected in Jeremiah and on the seal; and also after the destruction in the Babylonian exile, and up until the Second Temple period, as seen in the writings of Flavius Josephus,” the researchers said.

The stamps, along with other archeological findings discovered during recent excavations, will be exhibited to the public for the first time at the 18th City of David research conference, the annual archeological conference held by the Megalim Institute, on September 7 at the City of David National Park.


US Police Train in Counterterrorism in Israel, Attend 9/11 Memorial

By: Daniel K. Eisenbud;

“In our communities, for a lot of police officers, it’s a job, and I think that it’s more than a job for a lot of the officers in Israel because they are protecting their homeland.”

Members of the Police Unity Tour salute their Israeli counterparts at the Beit Shemesh police academy Monday.. (photo credit:POLICE SPOKESPERSON’S UNIT)

For the second consecutive year, the Police Unity Tour, a delegation of 52 American law-enforcement officers from 12 states, arrived in Israel to train in counterterrorism techniques and attend an annual 9/11 memorial service outside Jerusalem.

According to the delegation’s leader, Michael Safris, chief of the Essex County’s Sheriff’s Office Deputy Division, the Police Unity Tour was established in 1997 to honor officers killed in the line of duty.

“We are here to honor fallen police officers from the US and Israel,” he said on Monday.

“The motto of the Police Unity Tour is ‘We ride for those who died,’ and last year when we came here we did a one-day bike tour with Israeli officers, and in May we had 12 Israeli officers ride with us from New Jersey to our police memorial in Washington, DC, to participate in a candle-lighting vigil for fallen US officers,” Safris said.

During their stay, the US delegation will be based at the Beit Shemesh police academy, where they will participate in multiple counterterrorism training exercises, meet with elite units, and be briefed by Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich.

The delegation will conclude following a September 11 memorial service held at the 9/11 Living Memorial Plaza in the Arazim Valley.

Safris, 72, who is Jewish and has hosted Israeli police delegations in the US for the past 10 years, said he has visited Israel 40 times.

“From all my trips, I know the delegation forms an important relationship, and if something happens in the US or something happens here, we stay in touch and honor each country’s fallen officers,” he said. “The relationship and comradery developed over the last two years is one of the reasons we keep coming.”

In terms of heightened antisemitism in the US – recently manifested by violent white supremacists who chanted “Jew will not replace us!” while marching in Charlottesville, Virginia – Safris said the country is indeed becoming alarmingly polarized.

“There is definitely a big divide, and I think people feel more emboldened by some of the things that President Trump said, or didn’t say,” he said. “There is a definite uptick [in antisemitism].”

Asked if security for Jewish people and organizations has been heightened in the US, Safris responded “100 percent.”

“Jewish communities have hired security directors and people now have to sign in at synagogues and community centers,” he said. “It’s a lot different than it was over the last year.”

Safris said what distinguishes the Israeli police internationally is their commitment not only to law enforcement, but to Israel’s existential struggle.

“In our communities, for a lot of police officers, it’s a job, and I think that it’s more than a job for a lot of the officers in Israel because they are protecting their homeland,” he said.

“We have a lot of discussions about this when we are here,” Safris said. “It’s not just about keeping Israel going, but keeping it strong. You know, you can’t put down your weapons; you gotta be strong and act quickly, otherwise it’s going to be a lot worse.”

“They are protecting a way of life here,” he added.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, who met with the American delegation, said Israel’s ongoing security threats and the police’s efficient handling of them makes it an ideal arena for officers from across the globe to train.

“In terms of counterterrorism tactics that have been used and implemented at numerous scenes across the country, where unfortunately terrorist attacks have taken place, the Israeli police have used those tactics to minimize injuries, as well as find rapid solutions,” he said.

“Over the next few days, the Police Unity Tour will learn and see a number of these tactics across the country,” Rosenfeld added.


Israel to Offer Mexico Aid, Approves $1 Mill for Houston Jewish Community

By: Herb Keinon;

The prime minister is set to meet with Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, in a “historic” visit to Latin America.

The helmet of an Israeli soldier and member of an aid delegation is seen as he waits for a flight to Nepal at Ben Gurion international airport near Tel Aviv, Israel April 26, 2015.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Israel extended offers of aid Sunday to the US and Mexico following a string of devastating natural disasters.

The government unanimously approved a proposal at the weekly cabinet meeting put forward by Education and Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett for a $1 million aid package to help rebuild Jewish institutions in Houstonhit badly by Hurricane Harvey.

“This is a time for the Jewish State to help our Diaspora brothers at their time of need,” Bennett said. “They helped us when we needed it, it is our turn to help them.”

Bennett said the funds, which which will go to assist in the rebuilding of schools, synagogues and the local JCC that were damaged by the hurricane, are a “clear message about mutual responsibility.”

According to statement put out by Bennett, many of the schools and synagogues serving the 60,000-strong Jewish community cannot be used, and the community’s senior citizens home and JCC have suffered extensive water damage.

Regarding Mexico, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, set to leave for Latin America this evening, told the cabinet Sunday that when he meets Mexico’s President Enrique Peña Nieto on Wednesday, he will offer Israel’s assistance to areas hit by the devastating earthquake there last Thursday.

Netanyahu said these are “not easy days for Mexico,” and sent his condolences to the victims of the disaster. At least 90 people were killed and hundreds more injured in the earthquake which badly hit the states of Tabasco, Oaxaca and Chiapas.

Netanyahu characterized his trip to Argentina, Colombia, Mexico — and from there to New York where he will address the UN General Assembly — as “historic,” inasmuch as it will be the first ever visit by a serving Israeli prime minister to South or Central America.

“This visit will strengthen our economic, security and technological ties with Latin America, and will constitute the continued strengthening of Israel’s position in the world, something we are leading in a successful and systematic manner,” he said.

Meanwhile, Nadav Argaman, the head of the Israeli Security Agency (Shin Bet) briefed the cabinet before Netanyahu’s departure.

Netanyahu said before that briefing that the Shin Bent thwarted the efforts of more than 70 cells that were planning attacks. “Israeli citizens don’t know everything that the Shin Bet does,” he said. “I want to express my deep appreciation to the Shin Bet and all who deal with this important work for Israel’s security.”


How is a Small Nation Like Israel Providing Significant Humanitarian Aid Around the World?

By: Susan Michael, ICEJ US Director;

Israel was one of the first countries to send a team of disaster management experts, mental health experts, and engineers to Houston after hurricane Harvey hit last week. This team, sent by IsraAID, is working together with local authorities and is seeking to provide emergency assistance to those in need and to help rebuild the community of Houston, TX.

Even though just the size of New Jersey, Israel has achieved acclaim all over the world with its humanitarian aid efforts. With the advent of the modern Jewish state in 1948, Israel set its course to embrace its biblical history of charity, “repairing the world,” known in the Hebrew language as “Tikkun Olam.”  Isaiah 1:16–17 sums it up: “Devote yourself to justice, aid the wronged, uphold the rights of the orphan, defend the cause of the widow.” This value permeates Israeli society which transports Tikkun Olam to nations in need.

Several agencies oversee Israel’s world impact including MASHAV, established in 1957 under Prime Minister Golda Meir. As an arm of Israel’s Foreign Ministry, MASHAV runs Israel’s official humanitarian assistance program. MASHAV’s training courses have impacted the lives of millions living in poor nations by enabling 270,000 participants from 132 nations to return to their countries to improve agriculture, medicine, water, and other necessities.

IsraAID, a non-profit, non-governmental organization, focuses on disasters and long-term support. Since its establishment in 2001, it has been on the ground in nearly every major humanitarian crisis in the 21st century. Their civilian and Israel Defense Force personnel, including medics, doctors, search and rescue teams, and post trauma experts, often arrive in the earliest days of a disaster.

For example, when Haiti’s 2010 earthquake hit, IsraAID’s team was the first on the scene, saving thousands of lives. They set up a world-class field hospital recently named in a ceremony by the World Health Organization as “the number one in the world.” At the time, The New York Times reported, “Years of dealing with terrorist attacks, combined with an advanced medical technology sector, have made Israel one of the nimblest countries in disaster relief.” IsraAID has helped in 140 countries.

Israel even reaches out to its enemies in overt and covert ways.  Ziv Hospital located in the northern Israeli town of Tzfat has treated more than 2,000 seriously wounded Syrians who make it to the Syria/Israel border.

In another fascinating outreach, Israeli humanitarian aid volunteers undertake dangerous missions from Israel into Syria to deliver medicines, food, and other necessities to hundreds of thousands of desperate Syrians. They secretly go to countries without diplomatic ties to Israel.

One of its leaders describes their work: “We are a group of Israeli citizens who love their homeland and believe in a Jewish tradition and culture that values compassionate, open-minded respect for the sanctity of human life and dignity.  We believe we are blessed to be born in a democratic country that enables its citizens to travel to challenging and dangerous places … Israel feels a moral and ethical duty to become ‘the voice of the voiceless’ … even among some of our toughest and cruelest enemies.”

Hebron’s Jewish Community Receives Separate Municipal Standing

By: Tovah Lazaroff;

38 years after returning to the West Bank City, Hebron’s Jewish community has acquired the official status of an independent settlement.

PARTICIPANTS IN the annual Hebron march show the flag, with the Tomb of the Patriarchs in the background. (photo credit:TOVAH LAZAROFF)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman upgraded the municipal status of Hebron’s Jewish community, separating it from the Palestinian municipality, which governs the West Bank city.

Liberman announced the change in the status of the 1,000 Jews in Hebron during a briefing with reporters in Tel Aviv.

A 1997 agreement split the city, of what is now more than 220,000 Palestinians, leaving 80% under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority and 20% under Israel. But the Hebron Municipality is expected to provide basic services to the Jewish community, which has limited ability to government its own life.

The upgrade severs them from the Hebron municipality and allows them to independently seek services from the Civil Administration, which oversees civilian life in Area C of the West Bank.

The move was necessitated this year after the Palestinians in Hebron elected as their Mayor Sheikh Tayseer Abu Sneineh, who had been convicted and served time for his role in killing six Israelis in a terrorist attack.

“For years, Hebron’s Jewish residents lived without a municipal authority to take care of all the services required for normative civilian life,” said Deputy Defense Minister Eli Dahan (Bayit Yehudi). “After the election of a murderer for mayor of Hebron, the idea that they will receive these services from the municipality has become even more absurd.”

He added: “This is another important step in normalizing the lives of the Jews in Hebron, in particular, and in all of Judea and Samaria, in general.”

The upgrade comes during a visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

In July, the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization registered Hebron’s old town and the Tomb of the Patriarchs to the State of Palestine on its World Heritage List.

The inscription focuses on preserving the Muslim character of the 3,000-year-old-city with ties to three monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

Most of Hebron’s Jewish community of close to 1,000 people, live in the city’s old town.

It also comes as the Defense Ministry is in the midst of fierce negotiations to sway 15 Jewish families in Hebron to peacefully evacuate Beit Hamachpela, a three-story apartment building they illegally moved into in July.

The families have worked for the last five years to register their property claim and have provided documentation to show that they purchased it from the Abu Rajab family, which disputes the claim and has filed a petition before the High Court of Justice, seeking the removal of the Jewish families.


A Hadassah Hospital World First

By: Judy Siegel-Itzkovich;

Method to identify disease through acid levels in the body’s tissues.


For the first time in the world, researchers in Jerusalem have used a technology that allows the identification of a type of phosphorus that appears in the body and can alert doctors to disease states.

This first step in the development of innovative and groundbreaking diagnostic tools requires long-term development so that the team can bring it to the therapeutic level.

The team of researchers, headed by Dr. Rachel Katz-Brull from the imaging and MRI department at Jerusalem’s Hadassah-University Medical Center, developed the novel, noninvasive method for imaging the pH levels in the body’s tissues. It was published on Thursday in the prestigious journal Nature Communications.

Her research lab is developing new imaging materials using MRI.

The innovative method is described as a breakthrough because it is currently impossible to test the acidity level in tissue in the human body in a noninvasive manner. It also cannot be performed in a tissue sample, as tissue changes within seconds.

The new test involves adding an additional parameter to the diagnosis and follow-up of treatment in noninvasive imaging. The level of acidity is characteristic of tissues in the body and can vary in numerous conditions, such as cancerous tumors.

“This is a diagnostic tool related to the metabolic function of the cells in a tumor or other suspicious tissue,” Katz-Brull explained. “Such a measure could allow, for example, a more precise identification of tumor as malignant or benign and help test the efficacy of treatment.”

Thanks to the new technology, nonmalignant cells could be identified as such with greater certainty and save the patient from undergoing treatment according to the current protocols, including biopsy and even radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

For this purpose, the researchers developed the ability to see the nucleus of the atom very clearly and quickly (within a second) using hyper-MRI imaging, which causes substances to “shine” more than 10,000 times more than naturally. Hadassah’s researchers are among the few in the world equipped with this technology.

In their study, the team succeeded for the first time in the world in applying the technology through the nucleus of the phosphorus.

The importance of success is that the phosphorus nucleus can “report” a variety of important biological processes in a noninvasive manner, including the pH level. In addition, there is no need for any “marking” of the material or for injections of radioactive materials or tests using ionizing radiation.

Katz-Brull earned a doctorate at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot and completed her postdoctoral research at Harvard University and Beth Israel-Deaconess Hospital in Boston. After her return to Israel, she established the Center for Hyper-molecular MRI Imaging at Hadassah’s imaging department. In 2013, she was awarded a prestigious research grant by the European Research Council. To date, this is the only grant of this kind that can be researched at an Israeli medical center. Through this research grant, the just-published discovery was made possible.


Report: Netanyahu, Trump to Meet on Sept. 17

By: JTA;

It will be the third face-to-face meeting between the leaders this year.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump at Ben Gurion International Airport. (photo credit:KOBI GIDEON/GPO)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump will meet on September 17 in New Jersey, an Israeli newspaper is reporting.

It will be the third face-to-face meeting between the leaders this year.

The meeting will take place while Netanyahu is in New York for the opening of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly, Israel Hayom reported Sunday.

The meeting has not officially been announced by the Prime Minister’s Office or the White House,

Netanyahu reportedly will visit Argentina and Mexico, the first visit to the countries by a sitting Israeli prime minister, prior to attending the General Assembly.

Following his meeting with Trump, Netanyahu will return to Israel in time for the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Trump and Netanyahu met at the White House in mid-February, and again in May when Trump visited Israel as part of his first overseas visit as president.


8-Year-Old Israeli Girl Finds 2,000-Year-Old Half Shekel

By: JTA;

She gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.

Rare 2,300-year-old silver and bronze coins, jewelry found in ancient northern cave. (photo credit:COURTESY OF ISRAEL ANTIQUITIES AUTHORITY)

An 8-year-old Israeli girl found a rare coin from the Second Temple period.

The half-shekel coin dates from a time when it was used to pay a yearly Temple tax, archaeologist Zachi Dvira told The Times of Israel. The custom is prescribed in the Torah (Exodus 30:11-16).

Hallel Halevy discovered the coin in May when she was picking up her sister from kindergarten in the Halamish settlement in the West Bank, The Times of Israel reported. On Wednesday, she gave the coin to the archaeological department of the Israeli body that coordinates government activities in the West Bank, as required by law.

After Halevy told her father about the find, he contacted a local professor, Zohar Amar of Bar-Ilan University. Amar conducted some research and was able to identify the find as a half-shekel coin that he believes was made in 66-70 C.E.

“These half-shekel coins were used to pay the Temple tax during the Great Revolt, replacing the Tyrian shekel used previously,” Dvira said, referring to the currency approved by the Romans before their temporary overthrow by the Jewish Zealots. “It appears that these half-shekel coins were minted by the Temple authorities on the Temple Mount itself.

Halevy said she was thrilled to have found the ancient coin.

“I felt that ‘wow!’ It was written on it ‘Jerusalem the Holy City.’ That’s really exciting,” she said, according to The Times of Israel.


Total Eclipse of the Art

By: Ashley O’Brien;

An Israeli cinematographer and composer heads to middle America to capture art that is, truly, out of this world.

The small town of Depoe Bay, Oregon prepares for the coming Solar Eclipse. (photo credit:REUTERS/MIKE BLAKE)

It started as a simple idea at the Swissa Creative headquarters in Chicago, Illinois. In a time where it seems the world is only plagued with bad news and dividing views, we needed something to bring us, all of us, together. Something to remind ourselves that we are all one people on one planet, and at the risk of making a cliche metaphor, something to bring us back to Earth.

Enter: Kobi Swissa, a proud Israeli, Chicago pizza enthusiast, and owner and CEO of Swissa Creative. Kobi, who currently calls Chicago home, made the six-hour drive to Union, Missouri with his creative team for a chance to be in the direct path of ‘totality’ of the 2017 solar eclipse.

As the eclipse captured our attention, our hearts, and our minds, Kobi was busy capturing some of the most incredible, out-of-this-world footage, and has graciously agreed to share with our JPost readers.

Below are still frames from Swissa Creative as they filmed the incredible 2017 solar eclipse.

Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative


Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative


Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative


Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative


Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative


Kobi Swissa / Swissa Creative

Who knew something so far out in space could keep us so grounded, if only for a day?


Inherently American to be Pro-Israel

By: Benjamin Glatt;

Washington’s treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country.

Washington Crossing the Delaware, December 25, 1776, by Emanuel Leutze, 1851.. (photo credit:Wikimedia Commons)
The presidents of the USA, by far, have always taken a pro-Israel stance.
From Unitarian president John Adams expressing his desire to see the Jews return to their land and establish a state, to Baptist president Harry S. Truman, who was the leader of the free world when he recognized the State of Israel in 1948, and all the way until Presbyterian President Donald J. Trump. Even through President Trump has disappointed on the embassy issue, he has nonetheless proven to be a true friend of the Jewish state, US-Israel relations have almost always been on the amicable side.
While each leader may have had his own personal beliefs, the courage to implement them came from the “Father of His Country.” George Washington set a standard for his successors, and it was clearly made known in a letter he wrote to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island, following a visit there on August 17, 1790.
“May the Children of the Stock of Abraham, who dwell in this land, continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other Inhabitants; while everyone shall sit under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid,” he said. “May the father of all mercies scatter light and not darkness in our paths, and make us all in our several vocations useful here, and in his own due time and way everlastingly happy.”
Washington’s response was meant to further strengthen the ideology of separation of church and state and to strengthen the right of each individual to practice his or her religion.
However, Washington’s treatment of the Jewish people was something that had a much larger affect than just on his country.
Washington, baptized as a child into the Church of England, was a practicing Christian his whole life, but what exactly he practiced is still debated by scholars.
He did live in a society influenced by the Puritans, who believed themselves to be like the Israelites fleeing Egypt, wandering into the vast and unknown wilderness and reaching the promised land of the New World. They used the Bible as their guide, adopted biblical customs, established biblical codes, such as observance of the Sabbath, and gave their children Hebrew names.
As Washington wished for the freedom of the Jews in Newport and in the United States in general, he made it clear that this was his wish for all the Jewish people, and all nations.
“Since Washington asserted the principle of ‘asylum’ [in general orders from April 18 1783] and wished that the Jewish people would find in America their ‘vine and fig tree’ [in his letter to the Newport congregation] it is safe to assert that he would have favored the existence of a justly established homeland for Jews in Israel,” wrote Peter Lillback, president of Westminster Theological Seminary, in his book George Washington & Israel.
Constantly seeing the “finger of Providence” in the Thirteen Colonies’ quest to become nation, Washington would have had no doubt in seeing God’s hand pave the way for the creation of the State of Israel. And according to Lillback, this set the precedent for future presidents, save for a select few who chose to deny the two countries’ friendship. Thus making it inherently American to support the Jewish people and their State of Israel.

“Washington’s views about Israel helped set the direction that American presidents have taken toward Israel until now,” he wrote during the tenure of president Barack Obama.