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Historical Sites In The Holy Land Coin Series

CAPERNAUM - 1985. Israel has an abundance of holy sites. Yet those of significance for both Jews and Christians are rare. Kefar Nahum (Capernaum) is one of them.

The remnants of the gorgeous synagogue of Kefar Nahum (Capernaum) are an attraction to Christian pilgrims and Jews alike in search of their ancestral heritage.

Twice (66 and 132 C.E.), the mighty Roman empire tried to crush little Judea, physically and spiritually. Twice the local Jews succeeded in overcoming the blow, hanging on to survival. The Kefar Nahum synagogue located at the site of a still earlier one, was built in the 2nd century, then destroyed by the Romans in the 3rd - only to be subsequently rebuilt in all its ornamental Jewish symbolic splendor.

This was the "secret weapon" wielded by Jewry against attempts at liquidation: the "little Temple", the Jewish community's site of convention, however small, revived the memory of the Temple destroyed. There, values and faith could be preserved. There, the spiritual unity of the people of Israel was victorious over sheer physical strength and paganism.

For Christians, the Capernaum synagogue symbolizes the cradle of their faith. On this spot, among the simple fisherman along the shore of Lake Tiberias, Jesus chose to live and to teach. This was the starting point of Jesus's travels, in this synagogue Jesus the Jew would deliver many sermons.

Seventeen hundred years have since elapsed. The Land of Israel knew conquerors and wars, robbers, earthquakes and exile. The remnants of the Capernaum synagogue (discovered at the beginning of this century) are still there to be seen with the Jewish symbols: the Menorah, the Holy Ark, the Shofar (ram's horn), the Star of David, the seven species and the eternal lights. A living witness to the victory of the spirit over physical might. Evidence of possible coexistence between Judaism, the mother faith, and the religions is has bred.

The Capernaum Synagogue was discovered, piecemeal, by archaeological missions at the end of the last and the beginning of the current centuries. Its final unearthing was done by Dr. Orpheli, a Christian archaeologist of Syrian extraction, who worked on the discovery for 25 years. About thirty similar synagogues were set up by the well developed 3rd century Jewish community of Galilee. Only a few have been preserved. At the Capernaum excavations, coins, remnants of pottery and glass, writings in Greek and Aramaic and a human skeleton were dug out.
Description of the Coin
A graphic depiction of the archeological ruins in Caesarea; Capital of a pillar, decorated with a Menorah, from the Jewish Synagogue. The Amphitheater, Crusader Fortress, ancient port and Roman Aqueduct. The word "Caesarea" in Hebrew and Latin characters

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