Israel Heritage

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THE SOUND OF THE SHOFAR, THE RAM’S HORN, WHOSE CALL FOLLOWED MOSES AS HE ASCENDED MT. SINAI, RESOUNDED THROUGH THE UNIVERSITY OF PITTSBURGH’S COMMONS ROOM ON NOVEMBER 1, 1987, THE DEDICATION DATE OF THE ISRAEL HERITAGE ROOM.

       THIS ROOM REPRESENTS A 1ST TO 2ND - CENTURY DWELLING OR HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY IN ANCIENT ISRAEL.  THIS TURBULENT PERIOD SAW TWO JEWISH REVOLTS AGAINST THE ROMANS, THE DESTRUCTION OF THE TEMPLE AND THE BANISHMENT OF THE JEWS FROM JERUSALEM.

       THIS ROOM REFLECTS THE AGRICULTURAL SOCIETY WHICH THEY ESTABLISHED NEAR THE SEA OF GALILEE.  THE STUDENT SEATS ARE INSPIRED BY CAPERNAUM’S TWO-TIERED STONE BENCHES.  ON THE WINDOW WALL A PLASTER INSCRIPTION PROCLAIMS THE TALMUDIC LAWS WHICH GOVERNED THE GROWING OF CROPS IN GALILEAN VILLAGES DURING EACH SEVENTH OR SABBATICAL YEAR.  COPIED FROM WRITINGS FOUND IN THE 6TH -CENTURY SYNAGOGUE OF REHOB, IT MENTIONS MELONS, RICE, FIGS AND SESAME.

THE REAR CASE HOLDS A REPLICATED FRAGMENT OF THE ISAIAH SCROLL – ONE OF MANY FOUND IN 1947 BY A BEDOUIN SHEPHERD SEARCHING FOR A GOAT.  THEY DATE TO 1ST CENTURY. B.C. THIS FRAGMENT CONTAINS THE PROPHESY “THEY SHALL BEAT THEIR SWORDS INTO PLOWSHARES AND THEIR SPEARS INTO PRUNING HOOKS.  NEITHER SHALL THEY LEARN WAR ANYMORE.” 

THE WHITE STONE PROFESSOR’S TABLE CARVED IN ISRAEL, IS PATTERNED AFTER A 1ST-CENTURY PIECE DISCOVERED IN JERUSALEM.  ON THE WALL BEHIND THE PROFESSOR’S TABLE IS A REPLICA OF A STONE MENORAH DISCOVERED IN THE 4TH-CENTURY HAMMATH TIBERIAS SYNAGOGUE.

       THE CHALKBOARD DOOR PAINTINGS WERE CHOSEN FROM MORE THAN 18 SCENES FROM THE 3RD-CENTURY DURA  EUROPOS SYNAGOGUE.  ON THE LEFT IS EZRA THE SCRIBE READING THE LAW.  IN THE CENTER PANEL, MOSES STRIKES THE ROCK AND BRINGS FORTH WATER FOR THE TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.  ON THE RIGHT, AARON AND HIS SONS, THE PRIESTS, PREPARE TO CONSECRATE THE TEMPLE. 

THE FLOOR MOSAIC REPLICATES FESTIVAL SYMBOLS FROM A 6TH-CENTURY MOSAIC IN BETH ALPHA.

IN THE FRONT OF THE ROOM, A 3000-POUND STONE CARVING BASED ON ONE IN THE 2ND-CENTURY SYNAGOGUE AT CAPERNAUM, DEPICTS GRAPES, POMEGRANATES AND DATES FLANKING A SIX-POINTED STAR.  IN THE 19TH CENTURY THIS STAR BECAME KNOWN AS THE STAR OF DAVID.