Israel Travel Blog

Jordan Valley

The Jordan Valley stretches along the Jordan Rift Valley with the Upper Jordan Valley running from northern Israel through Hula Valley and to the Sea of Galilee’s northern shore and the Lower Jordan Valley running from the Sea of Galilee to the Dead Sea in the south. The “Jordan Valley” often refers just to the Lower Jordan Valley. The valley forms the natural border between Jordan to the east and Israel and the West Bank to the west.The valley has steep escarpments on both sides; abundant water sources including the Jordan River; an agricultural climate and rich fertile soil. In the lower regions of the valley towards the Dead Sea the terrain changes and is mostly arid, hot desert. The lowest part of the valley is at the Dead Sea, where the shore is 400 m below sea level, the lowest point on Earth. The Jordan River runs the length of the valley from its sources in northern Israel south into and out of the Sea of Galilee and further south into the Dead Sea.Inhabitants of the Jordan ValleyThe valley is home to 7,000-11,000 Jews and 56,000-65,000 Palestinians. Large communities include about 28 Jewish cities like Beit Shean, Megiddo, Mehola, Ma’aleh Ephraim, and Bekaot. There are about 10 Palestinian citiesincluding Jericho. Jericho is one of the largest Palestinian cities in the Jordan Valley.Jordan Valley in the BibleThe Old Testament refers to the Jordan Valley several times mentioning its fertile lands and miracles that took place in the valley. When the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River into the Promised Land they arrived in the Jordan Valley at Qasr el-Yehud. It was at the same site that Christians believe John the Baptist baptized Jesus. This site is now a tourist destination where it is possible to be baptized in the Jordan. Another possible baptismal site is Yardenit located further north near the Sea of Galilee.History of the Jordan ValleyThe Jordan Valley became part of the Ottoman Empire in 1486. World War I ended Ottoman rule in Palestine and the British and French divided the spoils resulting in the Jordan Valley becoming British territory in 1918. The land east of the Jordan River became the Emirate of Transjordan and the valley west of the river was part of the British Mandate of Palestine.In 1947 following WWII the UN assigned the northern portion of the valley to the new Jewish state and the southern portion to a new Arab state. However, the surrounding Arab nations did not support this plan and attacked Israel sparking the 1947-48 Israeli War of Independence. During the war, Israel managed to push back the invaders on all fronts however the Jordanians managed to keep control of both sides of the Jordan Valley along the West Bank/Jordanian border. From 1948 to1967 Jordan controlled the valley and prohibited Jewish settlements. In the 1967 Six-Day War Israel captured most of the Jordan Valley.The Jordan Valley TodaySince the 1967 war relations have been good between Jordan and Israel across the Jordan Valley. In the 1990s the Oslo Accords gave Israel administration over most of the valley and placed about a quarter of Palestinian territory of the West Bank within the Jordan Valley. Over the years several Jewish settlements have been established in the Jordan Valley’s Israeli-administrated “Area C” while the Palestinian government controls all areas of the valley in “Area A.”Israel is reluctant to give up the Jordan Valley because of its vital water sources and its high ridges which offer a natural defensive barrier. If war were to break out between Israel and its neighbors to the east the Jordan Valley would be a vital defense line. Today there are border posts in the Jordan Valley into the Palestinian West Bank and the Allenby Bridge Border Crossing into Jordan. The valley’s beauty and historic landmarks make it a popular destination for travelers.
Par Petal Mashraki

Things to Do at the Sea of Galilee

Visitors to Israel tend to make a beeline to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem but many miss out on one of the country’s most beautiful attractions – the Sea of Galilee (the Kinneret in Hebrew). To get a sense of the diverse natural wonders of Israel you really should make a trip north to Galilee.Paddleboarding on the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Erez Gavish on UnsplashThe Sea of Galilee covers about 102km², 28km from north to south and 10km from east to west. If you want to drive, walk or cycle around the lake it has a circumference of 53km. It is called Kinneret from the Hebrew word for violin or lyre because the lake’s shape resembles a violin.This is also where Jesus spent his ministry preaching in nearby villages and it was here that Jesus walked on water and performed several other miracles. The Kinneret is the country’s reservoir for fresh water and as the water level rises and falls depending on the rainfall so the country watches in anticipation to see if there will be a water shortage each summer. There are a lot of things to do at the Sea of Galilee:1. The Holy City of TiberiasThe largest city on the shore of the Kinneret is Tiberias; the Jewish Talmud was written in Tiberias. Visit the holy city of Tiberias and take a relaxing walk along the Tiberias Promenade. There is a small flea market near the water’s edge and you can enjoy a fish dinner overlooking the water.At the southern end of the Tiberias Promenade, there is a nightly sound and light show which lasts 15 minutes and is performed at 8:30 pm and 9 pm or 10 pm. The multimedia show is free and projected onto two large water screens. The scenes created on the screens highlight the history of the region and are accompanied by classical music and dancing fountains.Rocky Shore of the Sea of Galilee. Photo by Chris Gallimore on Unsplash2. Yardenit Baptismal SiteYardenit is a point at the southern tip of the Kinneret where the lake meets the Jordan River. It was here that Christ was baptized by John the Baptist. Today it is possible for visitors to get baptized in the same waters. At the Yardenit Visitor Center, you can get a white robe, be baptized, and receive a certificate attesting to your baptism. There is an alternate baptismal site further south at Qasr al-Yahud.3. Mount of BeatitudesThe Mount of Beatitudes (Har HaOsher in Hebrew) overlooks the Sea of Galilee and was the site of the Sermon on the Mount. Today a beautiful church crowns the mount; the octagonal church represents the eight beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) and was built in 1938.4. The Biblical Village of TabghaIn Tabgha, literally on the water’s edge is the Church of the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes where Jesus fed 5,000 people with five loaves and two fish. The original church was constructed in the 5th century and has since been restored. The original floor mosaic has survived. Also in Tabgha is the Church of St. Peter’s Primacy where Jesus appeared to his disciples after his resurrection.The Jordan River at Yardenit Baptismal Site.Photo credit: © Dmitry Mishin5. Capernaum -The Town of JesusYou can visit Capernaum, on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. This biblical town has several ancient churches and synagogues including the church of St. Peter’s House. A modern octagonal church surrounds the remains of St. Peter’s house which can be seen through the glass floor.6. The Jesus Boat at Kibbutz GinosarThe Jesus Boat is a 2000-year-old fishing boat that was uncovered on the bed of the lake during a drought in the 1980s. It is now on display in the Jesus Boat Museum (Yigal Allon Center) on Kibbutz Ginosaron the western side of the Sea of Galilee. Other parts of the museum display art by local Arab and Jewish artists of the Galilee and showcase art that depicts the culture, history, and nature of the area.7. Kibbutz Ein GevOn the east shore of the Sea of Galilee is Kibbutz Ein Gev where there are activities for the whole family, a beach, accommodation, and restaurants. There is also an anchor museum and an art gallery. You can take a 30-minute tour of the kibbutz on a mini-train and learn about the establishment of the kibbutz in 1937 and the everyday life of the kibbutz.A column with Inscription, Capernaum, Israel.Photo by Phil Goodwin on Unsplash8. Camping and Water Sports at the Sea of GalileeThere are several beaches on the shores of the lake as well as campgrounds where you can set up your tent just a few meters from the water. Camping around the Sea of Galilee is a must for all nature lovers. You can try a number of different water sports on the Kinneret including water skiing, kayaking, kite surfing, windsurfing, canoeing, and sailing. The top beaches around the Sea of Galilee are Tzemach Beach in the south and Ein Gev Beach on the east coast. At Gai Beach, Luna Gal, and Tzemach there are water parks.9. Hot Springs near the Sea of GalileeVisit the hot springs of Tiberias where there are ancient Turkish baths fed by natural springs. The thermal mineral pools are both inside and outdoors and there are heated swimming pools, hot tubs, and spa treatments. Not far from the Sea of Galilee is Hamat Gader Hot Springs another thermo-mineral spring complex on the same site that the Romans built their baths 2,000 years ago.10. Cruise Ships on the Sea of GalileeThere are tourist cruise ships that make short excursions from Tiberias. There are large boats that can carry up to 165 passengers to all ports around the lake. These boats resemble the fishing vessels used in Galilee in the times of Jesus. Cruises to Christian sites around the Sea of Galilee are also possible.Boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee.Photo credit: © ShutterstockWhile You’re in the Area….Just a little further afield into the Golan Heights, south to the Jordan Valley, and into the Bethsaida Valley there are more wonders to discover like the lush forests and vegetation around the River Jordan. One of the areas nearby is so beautiful it is believed to have been the Garden of Eden.The Galilee is crisscrossed with hike and cycle trails all clearly marked. Other nearby things to see and do are at the Jordan Park, Naharayim, Bethsaida Nature Reserve, and the Jesus Trail – a 65km hike trail from Nazareth to Capernaum.Liked this article? Join a One Day tour to the Sea of Galilee.View of the southern part of the Sea of Galilee, Northern Israel. Photo credit: © Shutterstock
Par Petal Mashraki

Baha’i UNESCO Holy Places in Haifa and the Western Galilee

These sites were named UNESCO sites of outstanding universal value in 2008 for their “profound spiritual meaning and the testimony they bear to the strong tradition of pilgrimage in the Baha’i Faith.” The sites include the faith’s two holiest sites associated with the faith’s founders as well as the surrounding grounds, gardens and other buildings and monuments in the Haifa and Western Galilee region. The locations in this area are important points on the Baha’i pilgrimage route. The holy sites have deep religious significance for the approximate 5 million followers of the Baha’i faith.The Baha’i Sites Included in the UNESCO Inscription are:Shrine of Bab, Haifa, together with the visitor center and terraced gardens.The Mansion of Bahji, Acre (where Baha’u’llah lived and died).The Mansion at Mazra’ih (6km from Acre, once owned by Abdu’llah Pasha and used by Baha’u’llah).The Shrine of Baha’u’llah, Acre (where his remains are interred).The Bahji Visitor Center.The Garden of Ridvan, Acre (where Baha’u’llah spent time in contemplation).Baha’u’llah’s prison cell, Acre (where he was confined from 1868 to 1870).The House of Abdu’llah, Acre.The two houses of Abbud, Acre (used by Baba’u’llah’s family).The house at 75 HaTzionut Avenue, Haifa (the current Baha’i Department of Holy Places).The resting place of Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum (wife of Shoghi Effendi and head of the faith 1957-1963), Haifa.Haifa Pilgrim Reception Center.Eastern Pilgrim House, Haifa.Second Eastern Pilgrim House, Haifa.Original Western Pilgrim House, Haifa.House of Abdu’l-Baha, Haifa.The Monument Gardens where several religious leaders and their family members are buried.Various administrative buildings in Haifa and the Western Galilee.House of Abdu’l-Baha, Acre, this is where Abdu’l-Baha lived; where his son Shoghi Effendi was born and where the remains of the Bab were kept for 10 years before being moved to their final resting place in the Haifa shrine.The Baha’i FaithThe basic principles of the Baha’i faith are the unity of religion (that there is only one God); the unity of humanity (all men were created equally) and that the purpose of man is to learn to know God through prayer and reflection. Baha’i followers believe that the leaders of the world’s main religions, including Jesus, Abraham, Moses and Krishna, were all messengers sent by God to educate humanity.In 1844 the Baha’i prophet-Herald, The Bab, began teaching his creed in Persia, he was subsequently persecuted for his beliefs and executed in 1850. Baha’u’llah, one of The Bab’s followers, became the leader of the faith and was imprisoned in Tehran for his beliefs. After his imprisonment he was expelled to Baghdad and then to Constantinople (Istanbul) and to Adrianople (Edirne). He was finally banished to Acre in 1868, which was part of the Ottoman Empire at the time. Here he was confined in prison and later allowed to live in a home near Acre, under house arrest. He spent 24 years in Acre compiling the scriptures of the faith and eventually died in 1892. His son, Abdu’l-Baha took over as leader of the faith. The faith spread to the western world and following the death of Abdu’l-Baha (1921) the religion was led by an elected body.The Shrine of Baha’u’llah, AcreAfter being released under house arrest in Acre, Baha’u’llah lived in several homes including the Mansion of Baha’u’llah where he lived and wrote most of his great writings. Here he passed away and the house became his mausoleum. The shrine is the faith’s holiest site and their Qiblih (the direction all Baha’i believers face when praying).Shrine of the Bab, HaifaIn 1909 the remains of the original founder of the Baha’i faith, Bab, were secretly brought from Persia (Iran) and interred in a tomb built for this purpose and designed by Baha’u’llah on Mount Carmel overlooking the city of Haifa. The tomb was expanded in 1953 and given a golden dome which is now a symbol of the city of Haifa. The tomb overlooks a kilometer of 19 terraced gardens which cascade down Mount Carmel.
Par Petal Mashraki

Top Haifa Museums – Six Museums in One Frame

The Haifa municipality operates six museums under the name “Six Museums in One Frame.” These are the most important and some of the most interesting museums in the city.Haifa Museum of ArtHaifa Museum of ArtThe museum’s permanent collection includes over 7,500 works of art by both local and international artists. The work represents a wide variety of artistic movements and phases in art history. Among the collection are, works on paper by Marc Chagall, Odilon Redon, Andre Masson and Chana Orloff. There are also works of digital media art and video art from the early era of this genre in the 1960s. The museum is housed in a historical building in Downtown Haifa.Tikotin Museum of Japanese ArtTikotin MuseumThis museum was established in 1959 and exhibits contemporary and traditional Japanese art. The art forms cover a broad spectrum including martial art objects, Japanese textiles, prints, modern miniatures, illustrated books, lacquer ware, masks, metal work, applied arts, Japanese porcelain, swords, traditional costume, sculptures, calligraphy and paintings. The museum building was designed to include Japanese moving paper-covered doors and a Zen garden. This is the only museum in the Middle East devoted solely to Japanese art and culture. In addition to the permanent collection, the museum holds regular temporary exhibitions like the present exhibition of Cosplay and Kimono. The museum also hosts regular lectures, workshops for children and adults as well as screenings.The National Maritime MuseumMaritime MuseumThis museum holds a number of exhibitions each focused on a different era of seamanship including a section on pirates! The museum highlights the history of shipping in the Mediterranean and Haifa’s marine history. On display are over 5,000 rare artifacts recovered from sunken ships, sub-marine archeology. Other themes include marine mythology, marine art, anchors, coins, nautical instruments, maps, model ships and the Greco-Roman era. This museum is very popular with kids and there are regular children’s activities and workshops. If this subject interests you visit the nearby Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum.Haifa City MuseumThe Haifa City Museum is housed in a historic house which was the first Templar building in Haifa in what is now the German Colony. Visitors can take a journey back in time to the establishment of Haifa al-Jadida in the 18th century by Sheikh Dahir al-Umar al-Zaydani. Follow the progress of the city as it grew into the modern, cosmopolitan city that it is today. The museum highlights the cultural and historical diversity of Haifa. The themed exhibits focus on the character of the city and its different communities. The permanent exhibition is a chronological timeline of Haifa’s history in three important periods – the Ottoman era, British Mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel. The museum hosts temporary exhibitions like the present exhibition of historic photographs entitled “Childhood in Haifa from 1930 to 1960.”Mane-Katz MuseumMane-Katz MuseumThis museum is housed in the former home of artist Mane Katz; an influential figure in the School of Paris art movement which thrived in Paris between the two world wars and included many Eastern to Central European Jewish artists. When Katz immigrated to Israel in 1957 he was already a well-known name in the art world. The city of Haifa provided Katz with a home and in exchange Katz agreed to bequeath his estate and work to the city. Here you can see art on display which shows the connection between traditional Judaism and art. Together with the work by Mane Katz there are exhibits of work by contemporary and modern artists like Chaim Sutine, Jozef Israels, Max Liebermann, Camille Pissarro and Maurycy Gottlieb. The museum also has space for temporary exhibitions and a balcony café overlooking the Haifa Bay.Hermann Struck MuseumThis museum was established in the former home of artist Hermann Struck (1876-1944), a prominent 20th-century German artist who excelled in the field of etchings and printmaking. Struck rose to fame in Germany as part of the modern art movement Berlin Secession. He was commissioned to create portraits of Nietzsche, Ibsen, Freud, Herzl, Einstein and Oscar Wilde among other leading figures. Being a passionate Zionist he signed his art with the Star of David and his Hebrew name (Chaim Aaron ben David). He concentrated on two themes – landscapes and portraits. The museum displays contemporary and temporary exhibitions in the art of printmaking as well as its permanent collection of Struck’s personal artifacts, furniture, books, paintings and prints. On display are prints, silk-screen, woodblock and works in oil. The museum’s valuable permanent collection includes approximately 500 works by Struck and his pupils, among them Max Slevogt, Lovis Corinth and Max Lieberman.Practical Information:It is possible to purchase a ticket (60 ILS) which covers all 6 of the Haifa municipal museums allowing you one-time entry to all 6 within a week.Haifa Museum of ArtWhere: 26 Shabbatai Levi Street, HaifaAdmission: 45 ILSOpen Hours: Sun-Wed 10am-4pm; Thurs 10am-7pm; Fri 10am-1pm; Sat 10am-3pmTikotin MuseumWhere: Kisch House, Hanassi Blvd, HaifaAdmission: 35 ILSOpen Hours: Sat-Thurs 10am-7pm; Fri10am-1pm.Maritime MuseumWhere: 198 Allenby Street, HaifaAdmission: 35 ILSOpen Hours: Sun-Thurs 10am-4pm; Fri 10am-1pm; Sat 10am-3pmCity MuseumWhere: 11 Ben Gurion Street, HaifaAdmission: 35 ILSOpen Hours: Sun-Wed 10am-4pm; Thurs 4pm-7pm; Fri 10am-1pm; Sat 10am-3pmMane-Katz MuseumWhere: 89 Yefe Nof Street, HaifaAdmission: 35 ILSOpen Hours: Sun-Wed 10am-4pm; Thurs 10am-7pm; Fri 10am-1pm; Sat 10am-3pmHermann Struck MuseumWhere: 23 Arlosoroff Street, HaifaAdmission: 35 ILSOpen Hours: Sun-Wed 10am-4pm; Thurs 10am-7pm; Fri 10am-1pm; Sat closed.
Par Petal Mashraki

Kid-Friendly Attractions in Haifa

If you’ll be spending time with your family in the beautiful city of Haifa then you happen to be in one of the most kid-friendly cities in Israel! There are plenty of things to see to keep you busy. Here are some of the best kid-friendly attractions in Haifa, Israel:Cable CarFor a thrilling ride (and a way to get up the mountain) take the cable car from the Bat Galim Promenade all the way to Stella Maris Monastery on the Carmel Ridge. Apart from the thrill of the ride there are gorgeous views across the city and sea.BeachThe Dado Beach and Zamir Beach along the Hof HaCarmel to the west of Haifa are two of the most popular beaches in the country. It is possible to relax, play in the sand, sunbath and even try out water sports. There are restaurants, cafes and stores along the beachfront.National Museum of ScienceThis large museum is full of interactive and hands-on exhibits which explain the basic principles of science and technology. The 400 exhibits cover the topics of sound, the human body, water, electricity, motors and there is a Hall of Mirrors and visual illusions as well as 4D films. The building which houses the museum dates back to 1910 and was originally the Technion Building and once visited by Einstein himself!M. Stekelis Museum of Prehistory and ZooThis zoo will entertain young and old. There is the full range of animals from lions and tigers to the smaller creatures in a petting zoo. In addition to the usual animals you can visit the zoo’s stuffed animal museum and the Botanical Garden section. The zoo is set amid lush plants and tall shady trees.X-ParkThis action park is the largest of its kind in the country. All members of the family can take part in physical challenges like the giant omega, paintball, skating, a climbing wall and a rope bridge park.Clandestine Immigration and Navy MuseumThis museum focuses on the history of Israel’s navy and the clandestine immigration of Jews during the 40s when the country was first being established. However for kids who are navy and ship enthusiasts will find this a thrilling attraction. There are hands-on exhibits and visitors can go onboard a submarine and explore. There is a video presentation of the history of Israel’s navy, naval maps, historic photographs, documents, war medals, model ships and paraphernalia from various vessels.
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Tiberias Marathon January 2018

The Tiberias Marathon 2018 is one of the most anticipated Israel events. The race is officially called the Tiberias International Winner Marathon. It is also known as the Sea of Galilee Marathon as it takes place on the shores of this famous sea in northern Israel. The Tiberias Marathon 2018 is one of Israel’s top events and constitutes the Israel Open Championship. The 2018 race will be held on the 5th January 2018 and will be the 41st Tiberias Marathon. In addition to the full marathon there is a 10k run and special festive happenings.The Tiberias Marathon 2018 CourseOver 2,000 runners are expected to take place in this major sporting event. The route starts and finishes in the city of Tiberias, the largest city along the shore of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee). The marathon course travels around the Kinneret from Tiberias on the western shore, along the southern shore and to Kibbutz Ein Gev on the eastern shore before doubling back and returning to Tiberias. Part of the route takes runners along the recently paved Barniki and Shikmim Beaches, right on the edge of the water. Participants can choose to run the full marathon; a 10 km race or a half marathon of 21 km. The marathon route takes you past breathtaking scenery with the beautiful Sea of Galilee on one side and the mountains, pastures and forests of the Galilee and Golan on the other. The race takes runners through the Jordan Valley past ancient historic landmarks and across the Jordan River.This is a road running marathon but most of the course is through rural landscapes. It is winter in January in Israel and so the weather is cool and perfect for the run.Sea of Galilee Marathon Special EventsIn addition to the run there will be other sporting events and happenings. As with other major sporting events around the world there will be water stations for the participants; music playing in the background and a festive atmosphere.Stalls will be offering a variety of sporting goods and other market-type goods. Participants can enjoy a pasta feast on the night before the race.Practical DetailsIf you would like to participate in the Tiberias Marathon or get additional information then you can check out the Tiberias Marathon website which has a Hebrew and English version. The marathon will take place on 5th January 2018. The full and half marathon will start at 7:30 a.m. and the 10K run will start at 7:55 a.m. The final date for registration is 31 December 2017 and the entrance fee is 285 ILS.
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Top 8 Things to see and do in Safed [2023 Update]

center;">If you want to be transported back to another time, then making a trip to Israel is the way to do it. And after you’ve walked the streets of the Old City of Jerusalem, sunned yourself on white sandy Tel Aviv beaches, explored ancient fortresses in the Judean desert and floated in the Dead Sea, then it’s time to head north.High up in the Galilee is where you’ll find Safed - perched on a hill, this ancient city is breathtakingly pretty, with a mystical air that is noticeable the moment you arrive. Historically, it was one of the four most sacred cities in the Holy Land (along with Jerusalem, Hebron and Tiberias) and after you’ve spent a day exploring it you’ll understand why.The lovely views of SafedSafed is famous for many things - an ancient Citadel, a charming Artist's Quarter, cobblestone streets, narrow alleyways, medieval synagogues but also an air of spirituality - which is intrinsically tied up with kabbalah - an old, esoteric Jewish school of thought, concerning mysticism, the divine realms, and metaphysics.Even the rooftops of the city are imbued with this ancient tradition - they are blue, which in Kabbalistic philosophy is a color that symbolizes water, and tricks evil spirits into thinking they cannot pass. And the air in Safed - well, some say it’s the purest in the entire land, which is reason enough to make a trip here.1. The Safed CitadelThe highest point in the highest city in Israel (about 1,000 meters above sea level) the Citadel is at the hub of the city and, in some ways, takes center stage in Safed. A historical landmark, fortresses across Israel (including this) date back to the Second Temple era but the remains today are from Crusader, Mamluk, and Ottoman times.Archaeologists believe that it once sat on an area of 40 dunams, had seven defensive towers, and fortresses, and survived until 1837 when an earthquake struck and was plundered by locals. Today, it will afford you tremendous views over the Sea of Galilee (the ‘Kinneret’ in Hebrew).The Safed Citadel2. Artists' QuarterThere are few things more charming in Israel than a wander through the Artists’ Quarter of Safed. Make sure you have comfy shoes before you set off because you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking - there are plenty of steps, and narrow, winding paths, and do expect to get lost!The main street itself is always busy, but if you wander off the beaten track, you’ll have an amazing experience. Between the blue doors and nooks and crannies of tiny streets, you’ll find many artists’ studios. Many of them are well-known in Israel and if you’re lucky you’ll actually meet one or two of them, at work inside.This part of the country is also an excellent place to shop for gifts, and if you’re looking for souvenirs from Israel, there are all kinds of art, sculptures, and Judaica (seder plates, mezuzot, menorot, etc). You really can spend hours watching artists paint, weave and give calligraphy demonstrations. And then, of course, purchase something!Everything you'll see is an authentic, hand-made creation3. Hameiri House MuseumDating back to the 16th century, this beautifully-restored stone house is home to clothing, furniture, tools, and a photo archive, all which tell the story of the last 200 years of Jewish history here. Built by Yehezkel Hameiri (1934-1989), a Safed resident, it’s a museum well worth visiting - don’t forget to go outside either, where within the courtyard you’ll find ancient grapevines and old water wells.The streets of old Safed4. Safed Candle FactoryEstablished almost two decades ago, Safed Candles (located in the Old City) was the brainchild of a local resident who wanted to set up a small business that would help provide employment for locals. Along with fellow workers, he began making candles, which are an integral part of Jewish festivals such as the Sabbath, Hanukkah, etc.The shop became so popular that today it also sells sculptures in all kinds of designs - including Jewish Stars of David, and the ‘good luck hand’ Hamsa sign - all made of beeswax. Brightly colored and beautifully decorated, it’s the kind of place where everywhere you look, there’s something you want to purchase.See how candles are made5.Memorial Museum of the Hungarian-Speaking JewryFounded in 1986, the Memorial Museum of the Hungarian Speaking Jerwy is devoted to showcasing the past of Jewish communities in Hungary, Transylvania, Slovakia, Carpathian-Russia, and Backa and looks at the enormous contribution they made to Jewish culture and history.Jews actually lived in Hungary for more than 1,000 years until the Nazis destroyed their community in 1944. The museum has all kinds of artifacts relating to life pre-war including video and audio recordings, photographs, Judaica, personal memorabilia, and even a model of the Dohany Synagogue in Budapest.6.Safed’s Old CemeteryLocated below the old city, graves in the ancient Safed cemetery can be traced back to the BCE (Before the Common Era) and as far as 2,800 years ago, to the time of Hosea the Prophet. This alone gives you an indication of how important this city was, historically, for the Jewish people, over the centuries.Today, people come here from across the world to pray and contemplate, in front of the tombs of famous Rabbis such as Isaac Luria and Rabbi Yosef Caro, who is famous for penning the famous ‘Shulchan Aruch’ (basically the ultimate code of Jewish Law to which orthodox Jews refer).Safed's old cemetery7. Ha'Ari SynagogueBuilt in the 16th century, this synagogue was founded by Spanish exiles who first moved to Greece and then journeyed onto the Holy Land. By 1560, Rabbi Isaac Luria (known as ‘Ari’ in Hebrew - initials of "our master rabbi Issac") arrived in Safed and began a tradition of welcoming Shabbat (the Jewish Sabbath) by praying there and then continuing with his followers to a nearby field, where they sang. This, it is said, is where the famous melody ‘Leha Dodi (‘Come my beloved’) was dreamt up.Ha'Ari Synagogue8. Abuhav SynagogueThis 15th-century synagogue is named after the Spanish rabbi and kabbalist, Isaac Abuhav. Interestingly, legend states that the Spanish authorities wanted the original synagogue (in Spain) to be converted into a church, but Abuhav clicked his fingers, and - as if by magic - the entire structure appeared in this tiny town.Abuhav SynagoguePlanning a trip to the Holy Land? check out these tour packages in northern Israel, and Israel Day Tours (and to Petra, in Jordan) that we offer. Feel free to take a look at our blog, which takes deep dives into every imaginable aspect of Israeli life: from food & drink, sandy beaches, and national parks to ancient fortresses, hiking trails, and galleries & museums.
Par Sarah Mann
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