Yitzhak Magen

The synagogue of Samara, from the fourth century C.E., shares many characteristics of the El-Khirbe synagogue: six-foot-thick walls, two rows of benches enclosing the main hall, and a mosaic floor. The Samara synagogue, however, is surrounded on three sides by an unusual semicircular courtyard. And a semicircular apse in the eastern wall of the synagogue housed the Torah shrine. Although in early Jewish and Samaritan synagogues a portable Torah shrine was brought in during services for the Torah reading and then removed, later synagogues had apses to serve as permanent shrines for the Torah scroll.

Like the El-Khirbe synagogue, this building is oriented toward Mt. Gerizim, although it is the wall with the apse and Torah shrine, rather than the facade, that faces the holy mountain.