Must See Jewish Locations in Israel
written by Zvika Gasner Koheleth 25-January-2021, photography by Angela Hechtfisch
Intro For Jewish Locations To Visit in Israel
It needs NOT to be explained the importance of Israel to Judaism. Since the days of Abraham and the acknowledgment of G’d, the land was an inseparable part of Jewish existence, Judea & Israel united monarchy lead by King David, Succeeded by his son & king Solomon who also built the 1st Temple for the Lord on Mount Moriah in Jerusalem, later to be conquered, destruct and its people to be exiled by the Bailonian’s, Romans, and 2,000 years later returned to rebuild with the Zionism movement the independent state of Israel. A lot can be told about 2,000 years in the diaspora where only a minor Jewish community managed to sustain Jewish forefront in 4 holy cities, holy mostly for the reason of keeping the dream of the return to Zion alive. These cities: Jerusalem, Sefat, Tiberias & Hebron manage continuously through centuries, therefore, hold a unique place in Jewish contemporary life & history. Thus, a visit to Israel from its historical, traditional & religious perspective can NOT be without touring them.
Jewish locations in Jerusalem
Undoubtedly, observing it from any angle as you may, Jerusalem is the centerpiece of Jewish existence throughout history, that is true nowadays as well. As it is true that Jerusalem sustains the central government institution today, according to the “Halacha”, during the 1st and 2nd Temple house period, there was a pilgrimage three times a year to Jerusalem on Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot holidays. Due to the desire to keep these commandments even today, many are the Jewish travelers who visit the city at these times, especially on the following locations: the Wailing Wall (also known as the “Kotel” and the “Western Wall”), the Jewish Quarter, the City of David, King David’s tomb and more. As part of the “Cohenim Blessing” custom held twice a year on “Sukkot” and “Pesach”, a great crowd of worshipers visits the “Wailing Wall’s plaza.
As Israel’s capital, it is located in the center part of the country on the Judea mountains, therefore it has cold and dry weather, especially in the winter season. The city is the holiest and a spiritual center for Judaism. Its sanctity stems from what is explained in the Bible that G’d chosen to dwell His presence and name as well as from the historical fact that Jerusalem contained the 2 temples, the last being destructed by the Romans in 66AD. The wailing wall, nowadays the holiest spot for Jews worldwide, is NOT a direct remain of the House of the Temple rather the West Wing of the outer wall surrounding it. The nearest entry point to the Western Wall Plaza is the “Dung Gate”, one of Jerusalem’s old city 8th gates. At times of Jewish festivals, the Wailing-wall can be crowded, and anybody can get up to the wall, although men and women have separate areas, and men should cover their heads (there are paper kippahs available), and women must wear modest clothing. It is customary to place a small paper note within the cracks of the wall asking a wish directly from G’D. Entry is free and taking photos are NOT allowed on weekends.
by Jewish tradition, above the Wailing Wall, it is said to be the “Drinking stone”, which is under the Holy of Holies, that is now traditionally expected to be found inside the Muslim mosque “Golden Dome” and it is believed to be the rock from which the whole world was founded, and also the place of the binding of Isaac.
Attached here is a more detailed post about attractions for all faiths in Jerusalem.
Hebron Jewish Must-See Places
“The Cave of Machpela” is believed to be the burial place of the Jewish patriarchs: Abraham and his wife Sarah, Isaac and Rebecca and Jacob and Leah, and Only Rachel Jackob 2nd wife, one of the Jewish nation mothers, is buried in Bethlehem’s (Of Judea) “Rachel Tomb” separately. As such, Hebron is the second holiest city for Jews. Hebron is also known as 1st united Israel capital of King David. The city of Hebron is divided under Palestinian and Israel authority, departed into section H1 and H2 respectively as of the “Oslo B” peace agreements, whereas the caves are located inside the Israeli section and controlled by Israeli Ma”gav (army-police)forces. and “The Cave of Machpela” is a series of caves located in the east side of the city in its Old City heart. As stated in the Bible in Genesis 23:1–20 and By all monotheist religious belief, the cave had been purchased with 400 shekels by Abraham as a burial plot for his dead wife Sarah.
For 700 hundred years in the Ottoman time, Jewish pilgrimage was NOT allowed into the Cave complex. The tragic Hebron massacre of 67 Jews by Arab riots “Tarpa”t” on 24th August 1929 and the massacre by Barch Guldshtien of 29 Muslim prayers in 1994 had cast a dark cloud on the possibility of Israeli-Palestains co-existence in peace in this instant spot. Therefore, Muslims and Jewish have separate entries to the Machpela complex and dwell in different chambers in it.
Safed(Tsfat) Jewish Visit
Tsfat is a city in the Northern part of Israel and is considered to be the capital of Upper-Galilee, elevated 900 meters above sea level, and is the highest city in the country therefore extremely cold conditions in the winter with a few days of snow. during the 16th century under Ottoman rule Jewish immigrants from across Europe developed the city into a center for wool and textile production and became the mystical Kabbalah movement capital, which thanks to the personals who lived and barry in it, such as the Rashb”i (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai) who is believed to be buried on the mount of Miron, a “Zadik” lived in the 1st century who oppressed Roman rule and escape with his son into a hiding spot in a cave for 12 years. Rashb”i is considered to write the Kabbalah book of Zohar. During the 16th century. After the Spanish deportation of Jews in 1492, many prominent rabbis found their way to Stfat, among them the Kabbalists Isaac Luria and Moshe Kordovero; Joseph Caro, the author of the shortcut Set Table”, (the Code of Jewish Law, in Hebrew the “Shulchan Aruch”) and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz. Lately, in 2013 the head of the world’s kabbalah center rabbi Berg was also buried in the old Jewish city cemetery.
Tiberias Jewish Tour
Tiberias is a city in the northern part of Israeli located on the western shores of the “Kineret”, also known as the “Sea of Galilee”. The city Established in 20 AD and was named in honor of the Roman emperor, Tiberius, by Herods Antipas son of Herod’s the Great.
In the year 2021, it had a population of 50 thousand.
Since its importance to Judaism throughout the centuries there are many active synagogues in its Old City. four synagogues are in particularly importance: The “Tree-of-Life” (“sfaradim”) established in 1740 and been demolished and rebuilt several times after earthquakes and floods, “The Senior-Synagogue” (“sfaradim”), and the 2 Hasid synagogues, the “1st Hasid synagogue” since 1786 and the “Risen synagogue”.
according to the Babylonian Talmud that was sealed and signed in Tiberias, the city’s important role in the days after the rise of the Masia, so-called the “end of times”, is clear. according to the Talmud: “Tiberias is the deepest of them all … “. From this, the tradition has arisen that the resurrection of the dead will begin here and NOT on the olive mountain in Jerusalem. Therefore, the request of many Jewish scholars was to be buried in Tiberias. Among them, you can find the most celebrated Maimonides (even though he did NOT operate from the city), Rabbi Meir, Rabbi Akiva, And many more from different times of Jewish habitation of the city.
Attached here is a complete post of cross-religion attractions in Tiberias you must visit.
Masada & Judaism
Masada is located in Israel’s Judean Desert and was the last Jewish holdout to fall to Rome in 73 AD. Masada symbolizes the ending of the Jewish nation’s independence and the exile from the holy land. Its violent ending has become a symbol of bravery and self-sacrifice, summarised best in the words of Masada’s rebels leader Yair ben-Elazar: “The death of a free man is preferred than a life of total slavery”.
Here is the link to the full story of Masada history.