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VIENNA'S MEDIEVAL SYNAGOGUE AND TOKENS
Arthur Shippee forwarded this article from the Jerusalem Post, which mentions coins and tokens found in an archeological dig in Vienna, Austria. -EditorThe earliest synagogue was a simple rectangular room and can be dated to around 1236, by the find of a coin, an Austrian penny of that date, on the surface of the plaster floor. The wall with the ark faced southeast, the direction of Jerusalem. There was a small entrance lobby to the north and a narrow women's annex to the south, with window-slits into the main chamber.
Nine lead tokens, the size of large coins, were also found. They were embossed with formal designs, such as an eagle, a rosette and one with two kings holding a crown, and they are unique in Austria. Though not definitely of Jewish origin, it is tempting to see them as associated with the money-lending trade, and they may have counted as ersatz money for use among the Jewish merchants.
Today these remains are beautifully exhibited in the underground museum, which is regularly visited by non-Jewish schoolchildren to give them a flavor of early Jewish life in their capital.
To read the complete article, see: Vienna's underground synagogue (http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1219218610072
Wayne Homren, Editor
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