Funds needed for Vatican synagogue in Israel
LAKE TIBERIAS, Israel - Anadolu Agency
The ruins of the synagogue were found near Lake Galilee in northwestern Israel during construction of a five-star hotel. AA PhotoAt least $60 million will be needed to refurbish a historic synagogue from the first century A.D., which was discovered on land owned by the Vatican in northwestern Israel during the construction of a hotel.
Priest Juan Maria Solana said more than $40 million had been spent and hundreds of volunteers had been working in the area to preserve the synagogue. Another $60 million are needed for work to continue, he added.
The ruins of the synagogue were found near Lake Galilee in northwestern Israel, when construction workers began digging in order to build a five-star hotel at the edge of the lake, Solana said.
“The Vatican began the construction of a hotel for Christian pilgrims coming to Jerusalem and came upon a historic synagogue while digging,” said Solana.
Solana said the Israeli government had told the Vatican to preserve the synagogue and communicate their findings.
“While excavating, we found two rocks with a symbol of Judaism and a seven-branch menorah, in what later turned out to be a part of the hall of a synagogue,” the priest said. “Jews would open and read the Torah on these rocks.”
Solana said coins from the times of King Herod, from 29 A.D., had also been found onsite. “We had no doubt it was a synagogue from the first century,” he said. The Israeli government has allowed the Vatican to continue with the construction of the hotel, as long as it preserves the synagogue and opens a museum.