Mysteries of Israel | Jewish tours Galilee

Jewish tours Galilee

 

Jewish tours in the Galilee - one day excursions upon request

 These tours can be done singly or together as a 3-4 day tour, passing through the different ages of Jewish history, starting with biblical time and traveling through Mishna and Talmud times, to the era of Kabala in the Galilee (16th century) and then onward to our present time.

 

1. Bible tour – Judges and Kings in the Valley of Ezreel
This fascinating tour will shed light on the relationship between the people of Israel, the Promised Land and God – a triangle that brought about Monotheism. As we travel through the beautiful landscape that was the setting for the stories of the Bible, we will learn of the culture that gave birth to the great prophets, a culture based on magic, inspiration and a direct connection with God.

The tour will take us from Mt. Carmel, where Elijah the prophet performed his most dramatic miracle, to Megiddo (Armageddon), one of the Biblical cities of King Solomon and a central site for Christian pilgrims. We will visit the site where King Saul fell on his sword in his final battle against the Philistines, and enter the vineyard that was stolen by King Ahab to support the idolatry of Jezebel, his wife. We will relive the brilliant battle carried by Gideon against the Midianite invaders. The Bible will never seem the same again…

 

2. The spirit of Judaism – in the footsteps of Rabbi Yehuda Nasi and the Jewish sacred texts of Mishna and Talmud
In the second and third centuries, the Galilee was the thriving center of Jewish culture and life. Here the Mishna was written and compiled by the greatest figure of the age, Rabbi Yehuda Nasi. A friend to emperors and the richest man in Israel, he was also a spiritual giant who compiled the Jewish oral tradition into 6 volumes of the Mishna - the most sacred Jewish text after the Bible, which covers all fields of life.

We will start our tour by visiting the birth and burial place of Rabbi Yehuda, the city of Bet Shearim. After Rabbi Yehuda's death the place became the main necropolis of Jews from all over the world for 150 years. We will visit huge underground complexes with hundreds of sarcophagi from ancient times, decorated with all kinds of art forms and dedications. We will find here the ancient house and synagogue of Rabbi Yehuda, who because of his importance is the only historical rabbi known in Jewish circles simply as “Rabbi.” We will find here the meeting hall of the Sanhedrin – the Jewish high council - and the tomb of “Rabbi” himself.

In the last 17 years of his life, Rabbi moved from Bet Shearim to Zippori, which was then the capital of the Galilee. Here he finished the work of compiling the Mishna. From Bet Shearim we will drive to Zippori, known for its beautiful mosaics. There we will visit the ancient and impressive water system of the city, the amphitheatre and old Roman remains, the ancient synagogue and more. Our tour will be accompanied by reading texts from the Mishna.

 

3. Kabala tour – to Tzfat and its surroundings
Kabala is the ancient Jewish mystical tradition. It was handed down orally from teacher to student, from the Torah’s acceptance on Mount Sinai by Moses, until the days of the sage Shimon Bar Yochai, who lived in the Galilee 2,000 years ago.

Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai captured the oral tradition in writing and authored the holy mystical book of the Zohar. He is considered to be the reincarnation of Moses and the founder of Jewish mysticism. In the 16th century, Kabala was further developed by the Jewish mystics who lived in the flourishing city of Tzfat, the capital of the Galilee at that time, and the most important Jewish center of learning in the world.

We will start our tour by going to the mountain village of Peqi’in. There we will find the cave where Rabbi Shimon spent 13 years of his life, hiding from the Romans, with only the fruit of the carob tree to eat. There he received the holy secrets of the Torah from prophet Elijah, and wrote them down in the holy book of the Zohar. We will see the picturesque village of today, where people from 4 religions live in peace.

From Peqi’in we will drive to the resting place of Rabbi Shimon in Meron at the foot of Mount Meron, a pilgrimage place for hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. There we will visit the ancient tombs and synagogues in the area, as well as the tomb itself.

From Meron we will go to Tzfat, the city of Kabala, walk the streets of the ancient Jewish quarter, visit the beautifully decorated synagogues and meet with kabalistic artists. We will try to understand some of the symbolism and hidden meaning of Kabala, and walk in the footsteps of the great mystics from the 16th century - especially the divine Ari, the founder of modern Kabala.

 

4. 3,300 years of Jewish settlement in the Galilee – from the Exodus till today
Jews first settled the Galilee straight after the Exodus from Egypt. There, the tribes of Asher, Naphtali, Zebulon and Issachar deforested the land and made new homes for themselves in the mountains. Later on, the Assyrians exiled the Jews from the Galilee in the 8th century B.C.

Jews returned to the Galilee 600 years later, after the land was conquered by the Hashmonite kings. Over the next few centuries, the Galilee became a center for Jewish learning and culture, a center of rebellion against the Roman rule, and a home for the development of Jewish mysticism. The Mishna, the Zohar and the Talmud, the sacred Jewish texts, were written here, and Jesus, a poor Jew from the small village of Nazareth, started a new world religion here.

Jews never wholly left the Galilee, but as time passed they became a small, unnoticed minority, their number dwindling to the dozens. Zionism marked the Jews’ return to the Galilee, starting from the end of the 19th century. The first pioneers came here, the first forms of cooperative settlements such as the kibbutz started here, and even as recently as the 1980s, many new villages were established as part of a new effort to settle the land.

We will start our tour by visiting Rosh Zait, an ancient Israeli settlement from 3,300 years ago. We will see the remains of the houses in which the ancient Israelites lived and learn how they made their oil, and visit the remains of a Phoenician garrison - one of the places King Solomon handed over to the Phoenicians in return for their help in building the temple.

From there we will drive through beautiful scenery to the ancient remains of Yodfat, the center of the Jewish rebellion against the Romans. There we will hear the story of the grim battle that was fought here for freedom, in the very words of the commander of Yodfat himself - the famous historian Josephus Flavius.

From Yodfat we will go visit some of the new Jewish settlements in the area, which were part of the “Mizpim” plan of Arik Sharon. We will finish at the regional council of Misgav to get the whole story of the current situation in the Galilee.

 

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