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.
Автор: 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
Автор: 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.
Автор: 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.
Автор: 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.
Автор: Petal Mashraki

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.
Автор: Petal Mashraki

Things to see and do in Safed

Safed (Tsfat or Tzfat) is a quaint city perched on the highest hill top in the Galilee. Safed Old CitySince the 16th century the city has attracted spiritual and religious leaders and is considered one of Israel’s Four Holy Cities. It is also known as the birth place of Kabbalah, a mystical Jewishdiscipline and school of thought.The picturesque city with breathtaking views has attracted many artists who come here to capture the serene scenery and spiritual atmosphere. Wednesday is market day when the streets come alive with an outdoor market. Foodies visiting Safed should find out about wine tasting tours of local wineries like Abouhav, Dalton and Golan Wineries and about tours of the local cheese factories including HaMeiri and Kadosh Cheese.Safed Tourist Board Visitors CenterMake your first stop in Safed at the Tourist Visitors Center here you can pick up maps and details of any special events. You can also see a short film about the history of Safed in Hebrew, English or French. In addition the Center has an excavation site underneath the building. Here you can see several layers of the city which has been repeatedly rebuilt following destruction by war, earthquakes etc. You can walk through a tunnel which was once street level and see rooms on either side including one with an excavated Jewish ritual bath (mikvah).Artists QuarterThe Artists’ Quarter is a network of narrow cobbled lanes with ancient stone buildings on either side; within each of the small entrances to the buildings are stores, artists’ workshops and galleries selling unique Safed art work. The art is primarily paintings, silverwork, weaving, Judaica and jewelry – all handmade. Bet Yoseph Street is the main street of the Artists’ Quarter here you can watch the painters, sculptors and jewelry makers at work. One of the most popular and unique forms of art you will find here is micro-calligraphy. Artists use tiny Hebrew letters (often text from a sacred book or the Bible) to form the shapes of the images they are creating. Using only the letters of the Hebrew alphabet they create a picture. Many of the art in the Artists’ Quarter incorporate symbols of the Kabbalah. Some of the galleries are collectives where the work of several artists is displayed together. These include the Olive Tree Gallery and Soul Art Gallery. The Canaan Gallery displays woven pieces (prayer shawls, scarves etc) made using traditional loom-weaving and brightly dyed yarn. These traditional methods were brought to Safed by the Spanish Jews when they arrived here escaping persecution in Europe.International Center for Safed Kabbalah Visitor CenterIf you are interested in finding out more about the mystical beliefs of Kaballah then you can find all the answers here. The center is in a restored historic building in the Old City of Safed. The center screens audio visual presentations entitled: What is Kabbalah; The Holy Ari; Safed in the 16th Century; The Zohar and Kabbalah in the Modern World. There is a 15 minute film about the history of Safed and the Kabbalah in Safed. The Code of the Universe presentation introduces visitors to positive thinking and the code of Hebrew letters. The center provides arts and crafts workshops about Kabbalah art and ways of expressing yourself through visual arts. From the roof top you can get brilliant views across the region. The center offers meditation sessions, exhibitions of local artists, interactive media stations and the sale of Kabbalah products.Abuhav SynagogueThis 15th century synagogue is named after the Spanish Rabbi Isaac Abuhav from Toledo and the architectural design is according to Kabalistic tenets. Rabbi Abuhav didn’t personally come to Safed but designed the synagogue while still in Spain. His follower and pupil Rabbi Ya’acov Beirav built the synagogue according to the Rabbi’s instructions when he arrived in the city in the 1490s. Beirav became one of Safed’s leading sages. The synagogue suffered damage from an earthquake in 1837 but the southern wall where there are three Arks (where Torah scrolls are kept) survived. The bimah (stage where the reader of the Torah stands) has six steps representing the six working days of the week. One of the synagogue’s Torah scrolls which is kept in the Ark is said to have been written by Rabbi Abuhav and to be the oldest Torah scroll in the city. Another of the synagogue’s scrolls was written by 16th century Moroccan Rabbi Solomon Ohana a Kabbalist from Fez. The synagogue decoration includes frescoes of musical instruments used in the Temple of Jerusalem, the symbols of the 12 tribes of Israel and work by artist Ziona Tagger.Ashkenazi HaAri SynagogueSephardic Jews who arrived from Greece in the 16th century constructed this synagogue in honor of Rabbi Isaac Luria (1534-1572) who was known as Ari. Luria was a leading Kabalistic sage who arrived in Safed in 1570 and prayed at this synagogue. This is considered perhaps the oldest synagogue in the country. During the 18th century East European Jews (Ashkenazi) arrived in Safed and began using the synagogue, hence the name. In 1837 the synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake and only rebuilt 20 years later. The synagogue’s main feature is a colorful Holy Ark (where Torah scrolls are kept). The Ark is carved from olive wood in the style of Eastern European synagogues. The craftsman was a non-Jew and unaware of the Jewish law against creating images of the human form. So he carved a human face on the Ark. To make the Ark “kosher” the face was changed into the face of a lion, in reference to Ari (Aria in Hebrew is Lion).Sephardic HaAri SynagogueThis synagogue is one of the oldest in the city; it was constructed as early as 1522 and was originally used by North African Jews and called the Eliyahu HaNavi Synagogue. The same Rabbi Luria as mentioned above, who was associated with the Ashkenazi Ari Synagogue also enjoyed praying here. He would especially enjoy the view of Mt. Meron from the synagogue window. It is said that the Ari would like to sit in a small alcove in the synagogue studying his Kabbalah and that the Prophet Elijah would appear before him. The name of the synagogue was changed in the 17th century to honor the Ari. Most of the original synagogue was destroyed by earthquakes in 1759 and 1837 but then rebuilt in 1840 thanks to donations by Italian Jew Yitzhak Guetta. During the War of Independence and the siege of Safed in 1948 holes were drilled in the wall of the synagogue facing the surrounding Arab villages. The holes were used of observation and shooting.Stam Center Safed (Otzar Hastam of Safed)According to Jewish law the ritual texts, Torah scrolls, tefillin and mezuzah parchments must be written in a specific way, by a specific person and with specific materials. A Sofer Stam, is the name given to the person trained to write the Holy texts. Stam is an acronym of the words Torah, Tefillin and Mezuzot. There are hundreds of laws related to the writing of Stam texts. The laws dictate the type of ink, shape of each letter, type of quill and even that the scribe must be pure, having just come from the ritual baths (mikvah). At the Stam Center you can learn about the laws related to the writing of Holy texts and even try your hand at writing the text yourself using a 3D practice quill, parchment and ink. There is a multi-sensory audio-visual presentation to give visitors an overview of the Kabalistic properties of the Hebrew letters and the laws and customs related to the writing of Holy texts.Meiri House MuseumFollowing the 1837 earthquake the Meir Mizrachi family from Iran immigrated to Safed and settled in this 16th century house. The family changed their name to HaMeiri and established a dairy in the bottom half of the house. The Meiri family established the first dairy in Israel and this house museum was founded by a member of the Meiri family, Yehezkel Ha’Meiri. Over the years the house was also used as the Beit Din (Rabbinical Court); as an orphanage during WWI and as a non-religious Hebrew school funded by Baron Rothschild. Prior to the establishment of the State of Israel the house served as an arms depot for weapons of the underground Jewish organizations Haganah, Etzel and Irgun. The building was also used to train the underground fighters and as a guard post between the Jewish Quarter and Arab villages. On display are objects related to life in Safed in the 19th and early 20th century. To help get a better understanding of the city’s history there is a timeline of key events in the Safed Jewish community over the years. There are furniture, documents and household items. You can see portraits of key personalities from the history of Safed. Visitors can see the museum displays, recreated rooms and the dairy. During holidays there are guided tours and reenactments.Safed Candle Factory The history of the Safed candle factory goes back more than 18 years. Candles are made here from beeswax and sculptured into artistic shapes and figures. The candles are hand-dipped and some are made into the traditional woven candles used in the Jewish Havdala ceremony and into Hannuka candles and Shabbat candles. The factory also makes paraffin candles which are brightly colored and decorated. The sculptured beeswax candles by artist Chaim Grees are particularly popular. There are candles resembling Biblical scenes and Biblical figures. The candle makers pride themselves on the use of environmentally friendly materials. You can see the candle store next to the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue.Rozenfeld Doll MuseumThe Doll Museum is located in the artists’ Quarter, here you can see dolls dressed in traditional costumes from around the world and from different eras. The displays are divided into three sections, Jewish costumes, folklore costumes from around the world and European costumes. The owner of the museum hand-crafts the porcelain dolls taking three months to produce each one. She creates them in proportion to a natural human body. She then paints the dolls and puts the doll’s body parts together. All of the dolls’ body parts are movable. The costumes are also hand-made and hand-sewn and trimmed. In all there are about 100 dolls on display at the museum in the Estham building at the entrance to Joseph Caro Street.Citadel (Metsuda)The highest point of Safed is Citadel Hill. There are well maintained walking paths going through Citadel Park which covers the hill and amenities like toilets and playgrounds have been provided. The views from Citadel Hill are breathtaking. It is also an historic site where you can see the remains of a Crusader castle. The remains are now part of an archeological park and excavations are still under way. Archeologists have uncovered a round tower from 1188, a bell-shaped cistern, a Crusader water cistern, a Mamluk gate tower and a hidden passage. Since the Roman era the hill has been a sought after strategic point and ever since there have been several battles between forces fighting for control of the hill. There is a memorial for fighters who died in a battle here during the War of Independence.SarayaAt the top of Aliyah Bet Street is a 300 year old white stone building which was originally built by D’har El Omar, a powerful Bedouin leader when he ruled over the Galilee in the 18th century. He chose to build his residence on this strategically high piece of land. His rule came to an end in the 1700s and the Turkish took possession of the “Saraya” and later it became their headquarters until the British took over. Under the Ottomans the clock tower was added. The Saraya became the British headquarters following WWI and Jews were given shelter here when the Arabs plundered the city. The Saraya became the Arab seat of authority until 1948 when the Lehi organization bombed the building breaking the Arab hold on the region. Following Israeli independence the Saraya was rebuilt and became the Israeli Army Headquarters. Today the Saraya is a community center where there are the Noam Synagogue, a music conservatory, Hebrew language lessons, a museum on Jewish life in Hungary before WWII and a courtyard which is used as a concert venue. The bells in the clock tower have been restored and can be heard across the city every 15 minutes.Karo SynagogueThis synagogue was once the seat of the most important Rabbinical court or council in the country. The only clue we have today of the synagogue’s glory days as a Rabbinical court is the 30cm high step up to the Bamah (stage/platform). The head of the Rabbinical council was Rabbi Karo best known as author of the Shulchan Aruch; a book which lays out Jewish laws for daily living. This book is still the go-to authority for many Jewish households. In the lower part of the synagogue hundreds of students would gather to study Religious texts. Together with other great Jewish Rabbis the religious council would make Jewish laws which were respected throughout the Jewish world. Karo also organized a soup kitchen around the side of the synagogue to feed the poor. The kitchen is used today to provide meals for Torah students. One of the highlights of the synagogue today is the set of Torah books which line the book shelves covering the walls. Many of the books are 100 years old and some date back to Karo himself in the 16th century. The synagogue’s Holy Ark holds three Torah Scrolls from Persia, Iraq and Spain which are on display to the public. The synagogue has many points of interest from the entrance way to the layout of the furniture.Museum of Hungarian Speaking JewsJews from around the world have come to settle in Israel, one of those groups are the Hungarian Jews. For 1,000 years Jews lived peacefully in Hungary; following the Holocaust the Hungarian Jewish communities were devastated. The museum is dedicated to showing Jewish life in pre-war Hungary. It highlights the activities of Jewish resistance movements during WWII and the Soviet occupation. There are photos of Hungarian Jewish communities, artifacts, uniforms, arts and crafts, Judaica and a model of the Dohany Great Synagogue in Budapest.
Автор: Petal Mashraki
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