The Construction of the Synagogue and the Maintenance of the Community: The Building of Rural Synagogues in the Roman and Byzantine Periods as a Leveling Mechanism

Eyal Baruch, Avraham Faust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Dozens of Roman-Byzantine synagogues have been uncovered in the Land of Israel over the years, and they have received a great deal of scholarly attention, regarding their typology, dating, architecture, and cultural origins, as well as their religious and social functions. In this article we will examine an additional social aspect of these synagogues which has not yet received sufficient scholarly attention. We suggest that the construction and maintenance of the ancient buildings played a crucial role in the social cohesion of rural Jewish communities during the Roman and Byzantine periods. We will show that the mechanisms used to fund the construction and the upkeep of these public structures, as well as the way public offices in these communities were managed and distributed, prevented (or at least delayed) the development of socioeconomic stratification within the community, and increased social solidarity. These mechanisms "drew" resources from the wealthier families and prevented them from becoming richer, which subsequently maintained an internal economic balance within the community that, to an extent, enabled its existence. (מתוך המאמר)
Translated title of the contributionבניית בית הכנסת ותחזוקת הקהילה: הקמתם של בתי כנסת כפריים בתקופה הרומית והביזנטית כמנגנונים משווים
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)*157-*131
Journalירושלים וארץ-ישראל
Volume12-13
StatePublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

IHP Publications

  • ihp
  • Endowments
  • Eretz Israel -- Antiquities, Byzantine
  • Eretz Israel -- Antiquities, Roman
  • Eretz Israel -- History -- 70-638, Destruction of the Second Temple to rise of Islam
  • Inscriptions
  • Jews -- Eretz Israel
  • Leadership
  • Rabbinical literature
  • Rich people
  • Social stratification
  • Synagogues
  • Village communities
  • Villages
  • Wealth

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