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Tag: Israel Antiquities Authority

The Valley of Dry Bones?

Recently Dr. Eitan Hai-Am resigned from his post as Health Ministry director-general because of the cabinet’s decision to relocate the emergency room at Ashkelon’s Barzilai Medical Center because there are ancient graves found on the site.

Israel Medical Association chairman Dr. Leonid Eidelman said at a committee meeting:

“You’ve been discussing graves for the past two hours. Patients will die as a result of this decision and you are talking about (graves)…Building an emergency room far from the hospital’s main building means killing patients. You do not realize that.”

Demonstration outside the KnessetAround 70 doctors held a demonstration outside the Knesset in protest against the government’s decision. The doctors warned that moving the ward to a new location, as demanded by the haredim, “may end up costing us lives”.

Revising plans to relocate the ER would cost an extra NIS 136 million (about $36 million) and would delay the project for two years and put the facility too far from the hospital’s main building. Netanyahu instructed his director-general, Eyal Gabai, to head a task force which would reassess the decision.

The Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement that the new task force:

“will determine, together with all the relevant authorities, the possibility of erecting the secure emergency room at Barzilai Hospital in a way in which lives will not be endangered. The task force’s conclusions will be presented immediately after Pesach. Until then there will not be any work done on the facility.”

Outside Ashkelon's Barzilai Medical CenterCommittee members toured the site Wednesday morning with Shuka Dorfman, director of the Israel Antiquities Authority and an aide to Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman.

Dorfman told the committee that he cannot guarantee that there are Jewish graves at the site designated for the new emergency room, “The fact that there was no Jewish community in Ashkelon does not mean that there were no Jews there at all. We cannot reach a decision until we dig in the entire site.”

Ashkelon Mayor Benny Vaknin, who also attended the Knesset meeting, said:

“I personally witnessed how the distance between the different hospital wards resulted in the loss of life…Building the ER at a different location will take at least three years, during which more lives will be lost.”

MK Arieh Eldad, a physician by training, said “a situation has been created in which a few bones are worth 130 million shekels,” he added “Jews know how to transfer Jewish graves from place to place, not to mention bones of Philistines.”

Celebrating Purim on a Rainy Day

Rain got you down? Don’t want to leave the house to hear the Megillah again at shul? Well, in honor of Purim, the Israel Antiquities Authority is presenting a new virtual exhibition on its Website of masks and rattles which were discovered in archaeological excavations throughout the country.

Appearing in the exhibition are various masks that portray humans and animals, the oldest of which is from the Stone Age and dates to c. 6500 BCE.
Many ceremonial masks were used for ritual purposes such as rainmaking, curing disease and exorcising spirits and demons. Oftentimes such masks were in the image of deities or demons.

The use of rattles during the reading of the scroll is a symbolic expression of the extermination of the Amalekites, the first people whom the Israelites fought when they were wandering in the desert. According to tradition, the wicked Haman was a descendant of the Amalekites.

Clay rattles that contain small stones or other materials for making noise were found in archaeological excavations around the country. The rattles occur in a variety of shapes, some adorned with a painted or engraved decoration, but all of them produce the same noise that is characteristic of a rattle.

The majority of the rattles were found in a cultic context or inside tombs and therefore there are those who believe that they were primarily used for ritual purposes. The frequency with which rattles occur in excavations throughout the country is explained by the fact that they are small objects which were relatively simple to manufacture and were used by the general population.

There is also the assertion that the clay rattle was a very important musical instrument in the religious services of the Kingdom of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah during the First Temple period.

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