Fr Stephen Smuts

Posts Tagged ‘Synagogue

Parishioners Were on the Sidewalk Crying

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Vandals strike Brooklyn Church, Synagogue.


Police at the 68th Precinct were questioning a suspect in connection with a rash of attacks on religious institutions in Bay Ridge discovered early Tuesday morning.

Four churches and a prep school were splattered with red paint, according to Police Officer Sophia Tassy-Mason, a spokeswoman for the New York Police Department. Tassy-Mason said the vandalism was discovered shortly after 3 a.m. on July 30. “These incidents are being investigated as hate crimes,” she told the Brooklyn Daily Eagle.

US Rep. Michael Grimm, state Sen. Marty Golden, and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis had just finished a press conference outside Saint Anselm Catholic Church, one of the sights targeted by the vandal, condemning the attack when word came in that the 68th Precinct’s Anti-Crime Unit had brought in a suspect for questioning.

“We have an individual in custody. We are questioning him,” Police Officer Vito Viola of the 68th Precinct said. “We believe he is the same individual on a security video and in some still shots we have,” the officer said.

The vandal splattered red paint on two statues, of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary, outside Saint Anselm Catholic Church at 356 82nd St., spray painted the word “no” at the front entrance of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center, at 415 81st St., and on the front wall at a Lutheran church on Ridge Ridge Boulevard. Curiously, the word “on” was found spray painted near the entrance of Bay Ridge Prep, a private school at 7420 Fourth Ave. “He might have decided to reverse himself,” Tassy-Mason said as to why the word “on” was found there instead of “no.”

The word “no” at the entrance of the Bay Ridge Jewish Center was painted in large letters that could be seen from more than two blocks away.

The fifth site, Holy Cross Greek Orthodox Church, at 8401 Ridge Boulevard, suffered significant damage, according to Christopher Elison, a church member. Red paint was discovered on six of the church’s doors, on a flagpole on the front lawn, and on the cornerstone of the church, he said. “It was pretty bizarre,” he said at the press conference. “It was a horrible sign,” he added.

The paint-splattered statues outside St. Anselm Church were discovered early in the morning. “There were parishioners out here on the sidewalk crying,” said Golden, who was at the scene at 7:30 a.m. with his deputy chief of staff, John Quaglione. Quaglione a member of the St. Anselm Parish Pastoral Planning Council condemned the vandalism as “an act of hatred that will not be tolerated.”

 Read the rest. 


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 31, 2013 at 18:36

Galilee’s Magdala Center

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Uncovers well preserved Synagogue from the time of Jesus:


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

March 28, 2013 at 13:57

Samson Mosaic Excavated in Galilee Synagogue

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Monumental synagogue building discovered in excavations in Galilee:

A monumental synagogue building dating to the Late Roman period (ca. 4th-5th centuries C.E.) has been discovered in archaeological excavations at Huqoq in Israel’s Galilee.

The excavations are being conducted by Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and David Amit and Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority, under the sponsorship of UNC, Brigham Young University in Utah, Trinity University in Texas, the University of Oklahoma and the University of Toronto in Canada. Students and staff from UNC and the consortium schools are participating in the dig.

Huqoq is an ancient Jewish village located approximately two to three miles west of Capernaum and Migdal (Magdala). Thissecond season of excavations has revealed portions of a stunning mosaic floor decorating the interior of the synagogue building. The mosaic, which is made of tiny colored stone cubes of the highest quality, includes a scene depicting Samson placing torches between the tails of foxes (as related in the book of Judges 15). In another part of the mosaic, two human (apparently female) faces flank a circular medallion with a Hebrew inscription that refersto rewards for those who performgood deeds.

“This discovery is significant because only a small number of ancient (Late Roman) synagogue buildings are decorated with mosaics showing biblical scenes, and only two others have scenes with Samson (one is at another site just a couple of miles from Huqoq),” said Magness, the Kenan Distinguished Professor in the department of religious studies in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences. “Our mosaics are also important because of their high artistic quality and the tiny size of the mosaic cubes. This, together with the monumental size of the stones used to construct the synagogue’s walls, suggest a high level of prosperity in this village, as the building clearly was very costly.”

Excavations are scheduled to continue in summer 2013.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

July 2, 2012 at 15:20

Lifting Torah Scrolls

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The Wall Street Journal online has an interesting article about the challenges of lifting Torah scrolls during synagogue services. You can read it here. I guess I can longer complain about the bulk and the weight of some of the study Bibles that I own!

Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

April 28, 2012 at 12:28

Posted in Church

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Synagogues in the Time of Jesus

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On the Bible and Interpretation site is the essay: What did a synagogue of Jesus’ time look like?

The New Testament gospels contain stories of Jesus visiting synagogues in Galilee.  Sometimes he even he taught in them or read scripture during worship. Unfortunately, the gospels provide few details of what these synagogues looked like. Were they majestic buildings or small structures? How were they furnished? The gospels remain silent.

Indeed, the gospels contain so little description that some scholars have suggested synagogues were simply gatherings that took place outdoors or in people’s houses or courtyards.After all the Greek word “sunagogé” means “coming together,” and could indicate a meeting rather than a building…

Read the rest here. It’s worth it.


Written by Fr Stephen Smuts

September 1, 2011 at 18:54


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