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Heritage Civilization and the Jews
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sidecurve1 The Shaping of Traditions
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Early Synagogues
SynagogueThe ruins of ancient synagogues provide insight into Jewish life and rituals during the first 400 years of the Common Era. Excavations in Israel and other areas of the Mediterranean have helped us to understand the central role of synagogues in Jewish life after the destruction of the Second Temple.

View slides of ancient synagogues across the Mediterranean area and learn about the buildings and the people who used them.

TalmudA Page of the Talmud
The Talmud, from the Hebrew word "to study," is an intricate compilation of Jewish laws and legends, passed down by word of mouth since biblical times and codified over a period of centuries by rabbis in Babylon and Palestine. It includes discussions and debates that deal with all aspects of life, both sacred and secular. The Babylonian Talmud is known for its intellectual sharpness and ingenuity, and is the authorative compilation of the Oral Law.

Navigate through a page of the Talmud. This presentation requires Macromedia Flash.

The Cairo Genizah
CoinAccording to Jewish tradition, worn out documents containing the name of God cannot be destroyed. In many synagogues these documents were kept in a special storage area, called the Genizah. In the late 19th century, a Genizah was discovered in a 12th century synagogue in Cairo, the center of the largest Jewish community in Egypt in Medieval times. The fragmented documents were painstakingly restored and provide us with a unique look at Jewish life under Muslim rule.

Explore fragments of documents found in the Cairo Genizah for a glimpse of Jewish life under Medieval Muslim rule.

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