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August 04, 1989 - Image 36

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1989-08-04

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

LIFE IN ISRAEL

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LEASE FOR $499.88*

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proved credit lease pymts. 66 mos.. 83.000 mi.. limitation. 8' per mile for excess mileage over 83,000
Lessee has no obligation to purchase vehicle at lease end Lessee has option to purchase of lease end
at a price or formula to be negotiated with the dealer at lease inception. Lessee is responsible for ex-
cessive wear & tear. 1st paymnt. in advance & 8450.00 refundable sec dep. for units shown. To get total
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36

FRIDAY, AUGUST 4, 1989

Special to The Jewish News

D

ozens of archaeolo-
gists, scores of stone-
masons and landscape
gardeners, hundreds of local
laborers and squads of young
Gadna paramilitary youth
movement members worked
overtime to complete the
restoration of the ancient
Roman-Byzantine theater at
Beit She'an, and get it ready
for its first public perfor-
mance on Israel In-
dependence Day, May 10.
That performance marked
the first show at the theater
since the eighth century,
when the town was destroyed
by an earthquake.
Half of the $500,000 cost of
theater restoration has been
covered by a donation from
the Jewish Federation Coun-
cil of Greater Los Angeles,
which was hooked up with
the development town of Beit
She'an in 1982 as part of
United Jewish Appeal's Pro-
ject Renewal program.
Los Angeles sent a group
of 100 people to the
Independence Day concert
which featured Julius
Rudel conducting the Israel
Philharmonic Orchestra,
with Vladimir Atlantov,
tenor, and Ludmilla
Schemischuk, mezzo-soprano
— both from Moscow's Bolshoi
Opera House, now basing

themselves in Vienna, as
soloists. All 2,000 seats in the
ancient theater were filled
for the gala renewal concert.
Beit She'an, during the
Hellenistic period, was an im-
portant artistic center in the
city known as Scythopolis. It
was the largest and most im-
portant of the Decapolis
10-city ancient Roman com-
plex and the only one west of
the Jordan River.
During the seventh century,
the city passed into the hands
of the Moslems, but in the
middle of the following cen-
tury it was destroyed by an
earthquake and degenerated
into a squalid Bedouin village
until a Jewish revival there
in the 1950s.
But Beit She'an has a
history going back before the
Hellenistic period, to the
most ancient times of the
Stone Age. The high tel, or ar-
tificial mound, dominating
the present excavation site is
a layer cake of some 20 strata
of civilizations going back to
the fifth millennium BCE.
In biblical times, the city
was held by the Philistines,
who, after defeating the
Israelites in battle on nearby
Mount Gilboa, displayed the
bodies of King Saul and his
sons on the city walls.
It was subsequently cap-
tured by King David and
became an administrative
center during the reign of
King Solomon.

But the Greeks and
Romans did not build their
cities on top of the ruins of the
earlier sites. Instead, they
chose to place their cities at
the foot of the tel.
While some trial shafts
have been sunk into the tel
itself, archaeological digs
were begun by a group of
Philadelphia researchers in
the 1930s, searching for the

Sound experts say
the acoustics from
the stage of the
theater are 'near
perfect.

Roman remains at the foot of
the tel.
Serious digging began in
the 1960s, when the area was
declared a national park, in
part to prevent construction
of a modern Beit She'an
suburb and to leave the
400-acre site free for later
scientific investigation and
tourism development.
Of that designated area, so
far only 3 percent has been
excavated, with exciting
results.
Their main features are the
Roman-Byzantine theater, a
broad pilaster-lined paved
street, an extensive bath
house, temples, shops and a
Roman amphitheater for
sports and horse racing.

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