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Jews' Existential Dread About Antisemitism Is Warping Our Judgment Jews' Existential Dread About Antisemitism Is Deep – and It's Warping Our Judgment

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18.07.2021

Two thousand years ago, give or take a decade, the moneyed classes of Jerusalem had a new exclusive club or, as they would have called it, a triclinium. In two matching suites, they would lounge on sofas, be served refreshments, while a massive ornamental fountain provided a soothing, burbling background.

The best bit was that the VIP area wasn’t hidden away. It was right next to the main entrance to the Temple. I mean, why not flaunt it as the dusty pilgrims and the plebs go by?

According to Dr Shlomit Weksler-Bdolach, the archaeologist who directed the dig which uncovered the Jerusalem Temple Club, there’s absolutely no mention of its existence in any historical source on the twilight of Judean Jerusalem. Not so long before it was built, the site had seen major construction under King Herod, when a dam-wall had been built there.

And what’s even more intriguing, the place doesn’t seem to have remained active for very long. One of the tricliniums was dug up after about 20 years and then used instead as a mikva (ritual bath), probably fed by the waters of the fountain, for the purification of those about to go into the Temple. The mikva wasn’t in use for very long either, as a couple of decades later, the Great Revolt against the Romans broke out and in 70CE Vespasian’s Tenth Legion destroyed Jerusalem, covering the Temple compound and its surroundings with rubble.

You can see what’s left of the triclinium, the fountain and the mikva in a newly-opened section of the Western Wall tunnels, which are always worth a visit. The nationalist-Haredi management of The Western Wall Heritage Foundation, which runs the site, were overjoyed to have a new attraction there, though they’re less interested in delving behind the religious and political implications of the new find.

Since visiting there, I’ve been thinking about little else.

Who were those local........

© Haaretz


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