Tuesday, May 15, 2012



Kibbutz Nirim was established in June 1946 as part of the 11 points in
the Negev plan aimed at establishing a Jewish presence in the Negev in
order to claim it as part of a future Jewish state. It was named after the
Nir brigade of the Hashomer Hatzair youth movement, some of whose
members helped establish the kibbutz, and was originally established
on a site now known "Dangour" or "Old Nirim". At the outbreak of the
1948 Arab–Israeli War on 15 May 1948, the kibbutz was first Jewish
settlement in Israel to be attacked by the Egyptian army, in the Battle
of Nirim. It had 39 defenders. During the battle, the Egyptians came
within 25 meters of the kibbutz perimeter and eight of the kibbutz
defenders were killed, before Egyptians withdrew. All of the houses
were destroyed in the attack.]

Nirim remained an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) outpost against the
Egyptian army throughout the war. After the war, the IDF wanted the
site because of its strategic location, while the kibbutzniks wanted to
move north, to the line of 200 millimeters of rain a year, so the kibbutz
moved some 15 kilometers northeast to its present location, next to the
site of an ancient synagogue at Horvot Maon.


The synagogue and its mosaic floor were discovered during a
construction of a road in 1957.

The original date of the synagogue is uncertain but is before the 6th
century. In a sixth century renovation, the northern wall was opened
and a semi-circular apse to contain a Torah Ark was constructed. The
floor level was raised and marble columns and a beautiful mosaic floor

At the bottom of the mosaic floor is a amphora flanked by a pair of
peacocks. A vine flows out of the amphora, forming loops. In each
loop is a bird, animal, fruit, or a depiction of steps in the wine making
process. The design is so similar to the mosaics in the church floor at
nearby Shallal that they are thought to have been designed by the
same artist. Both floors depict animals and have similar patterns: the
synagogue floor is distinguished by a menorah flanked by two lions
and several other Jewish ritual objects. Alongside the menorah are the
symbols of Judah, palm trees and lions. Ethrogs, a shofar and a lulav
are depicted nearby. The Mosaic has an inscription in Aramaic. The
upper part of the inscription blesses all members of the community,
the lower part honors three donors. An identical floor was found in the
ancient synagogue in Gaza.

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