The synagogue at Masada is one of the earliest synagogues visible today; it was in use both while the Second Temple stood, and continued a short time after the Temple was destroyed.
The structure shows two phases:
The first dates from the time of Herod the Great, during which the building had two rooms – a small anteroom and a larger room. The roof of the room was supported by two columns. Remains of manure found on the floor show that the building served at that time as a stable for horses or mules of the royal caravans, or for donkeys that brought water from Masada’s cisterns to the summit.
During the second stage the building underwent extensive renovations. The wall that separated the two rooms was dismantled, and a small room was built in the northwestern corner. Under the floor in this small room two pits were discovered, in each of which fragments of scrolls were found during excavations. Benches were also built to serve the congregation. These finds led the excavators to conclude that the pits served as a geniza (a place to store worn Torah scrolls) and that the building was the synagogue of Masada during the time of the rebels. In the main room of the synagogue glass vessels were found, as well as two sherds with Hebrew inscriptions.
Conservation and development plan for the synagogue
Conservation of the ancient synagogue and improvement of infrastructure in order to hold traditional bar mitzvah ceremonies at Masada.
Cost Estimate: NIS 250,000