Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Living History

I found the recent article in the NYTimes on what really happened on Chanukah to be quite amusing. The author (and his readers) was upset to learn that Chanukah isn't about Religious Tolerance or whatever as he grew up to believe, but about civil war and the survival of Judaism. He of course paints the Maccabees as a bunch of religious fanatics/Talibanist fighting the moderates who were looking to "synthesize" the Greek and Jewish cultures together, ignoring how (a) the moderates were trying to destroy Judaism and assimilate, and (b) that it is unlikely there would be much of Judaism (or Jews) left today if it weren't for our coreligionists back then.

It seemed appropriate on Chanukah that the JoeSettler family visit something connected to our ideological and national ancestors. There seems to be so much in common between then and now.

So we took a trip to the Maccabean grave site near Modi'in. Now no one is exactly sure where the grave site is, but for a number of reasons, this is currently accepted to be the most likely candidate (though other strongly disagree).

At the location is a modern "Andarta" to soldiers who died in 1948 defending the region against the Jordanian army (there weren't Arabs who could be identified as Palestinians back then). The design of the pyramids is symbolic of the grave markers that were originally on the Maccabbee graves.

If you head out on the path to highway 443 you can see Jewish burial caves that were uncovered as the road was built (you can actually see it on the highway if you drive slow enough). These graves are from around 100 years after the Maccabee victory.

Heading back to the main area, you can see what are considered the most likely candidates for the graves. These graves where carved out of the limestone themselves, and probably a stone pyramid was built over them to cover them up.

There are actually a lot of small caves in the area. Many (but not all) are marked off so you don't fall into them.

If you head over to Latrun tank museum and climb up to the top of the building you can look around and see where the Maccabees fought the Greek-Syrian armies.

Now that's a living history!

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DoubleTapper said...

Now that's what we call rewriting history.

It's too bad that no at the times checked the facts.

DoubleTapper, blogging on Guns Politics Defense from Israel

Anonymous said...

Caves and Graves - the typical tourist experience. Here you managed to combine them, and bring them to life - the history, not the dead people.

Neshama said...

It just so happens that there was a rebuttal to this article, written by Rabbi YY Jacobson, that can be read at .... www.theyeshiva.net/Article/View/49/A-Titanic-Victory-and-a-Small-Cruse-of-Oil

I hope you enjoy this choice piece of writing.

Alissa said...

The graves by the highway were the burial site of members of the Hashmonean family - ossuaries were found bearing family names.

The graves that are identified as the Maccabim graves (the carved graves in the stone) are now considered by most to actually be Byzantine. Further down the road from the turnoff to the "Maccabim Graves" is a site that is considered by many to be the likely site of the pyramid graves of the Maccabim. It's near a tomb of a sheik that many Haredim believe is the Kever of Matityahu ben Yochanan. It doesn't fit the story, so it probably is the sheik, but nearby are 3 square depressions with a pile of stones that fit the descriptions of the graves from the Book of Maccabees.

OneTiredEma said...

That op-ed piece made me furious, though I found a lot of it overwritten to the point of idiocy, because it made some reference to eating pork vs not. Right, because religious Jewish practice can be summed up in that one decision.

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