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JEWISH Ein Kerem

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Nestled in the highlands of Jerusalem, between Mount Ors and Mount Herzl, is the small but iconic and ancient town of Ein Kerem. It holds a substantial place in Jewish history and is known today as a place of artistic prominence and practice. Beauty seems to be the ideal keyword for describing Ein Kerem and even the drive to the town is breathtaking, and built to accommodate the land. The roads move and curve with the mountainside, giving the entire area a very old world feel and appearance.  ein kerem town in the judean moutains The History of Ein Kerem The historic town of Ein Kerem has roots in the Old Testament mentioned in the books of Jeremiah and Nehemiah. As far as the land designation of the twelve tribes of Israel, Ein Kerem is located in what was the territory of the tribe of Judah. The historic mountain village also plays a large role in the story of Christianity. This was the place where the mother of Saint John the Baptist miraculously conceived her son. The town was also visited by the mother of Jesus during her pregnancy. The story goes that the two women met at the local town to share in their joy of being pregnant. Today the site is visited by Christians from around the world who come to sip the divine waters of the well. Wells have often been associated with women throughout several religions and Christianity is no exception. Some pilgrims even bring their own plastic water bottles to take the water back home. public ancient stone water well in Ein Kerem Public ancient water well in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem The Town of Ein Kerem Today Today Ein Kerem is home to a thriving artist community. The beauty of the landscape combined with the distinct history of the town has drawn in artists from around the world. The biblical rolling hills, iconic heritage sites, and regional legends and stories are commemorated in hundreds if not thousands of artistic renderings and representations. A few of these representations are the work of some of the most respected artists in history, including the legendary Marc Chagall, born Moishe Shagal. In 1962 he donated a series of stained glass windows to the Abbell Synagogue of the Hadassah Medical Centre. The windows are masterpieces of color, light, and composition, paying homage to the twelve sons of Jacob, their professions, accomplishments, and life histories. The concept of life history commemoration is a hallmark of many sites and sanctuaries in Ein Kerem. chagall windows in hadassah hospital ein kerem The Church of Saint John the Baptist, belonging to the Franciscan order of Catholicism, is one such site. Constructed on the spot where the Saint was said to have been born, the entire structure dates back to potentially the Byzantine period. The most current additions to the Church go all the way back to the 11th century, and in the mid 20th century excavations revealed a slew of undiscovered artifacts. Some of these include a wine press, graves, and even rock cut chambers where several ceramic pieces dating to 70 AD were discovered.  Church of Saint John the Baptist in Ein Kerem Church of Saint John the Baptist in Ein Kerem The other Church that commemorates the life of Saint John the Baptist is the Church of the Visitation. The Church is located on the site where Mary was said to have sung her song of praise. The entire structure is decorated with scenes from the event including several frescos. The original mosaic floor of the Church is still visible as well. The Church also contains the legendary “Rock of Concealment” where Elizabeth and the infant John hid from Herod’s soldiers. The rock miraculously opened up and the new mother and child were able to find sanctuary. After a full day of visiting the historic sites around time, you will want to replenish yourself with a delicious meal at Atalya. Named after the head chef and owner of the restaurant, Atalya is open for private events with a menu crafted entirely by Atalya. Her dishes are inspired by the surrounding land and include corn cakes topped with sardines, focaccia, Israeli salad, and more. The gate and exterior of the Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem Although the hustle and bustle of big city Jerusalem provides ample history, food, and events for several visits, Ein Kerem offers a more personal experience. The quiet persona of Ein Kerem and its place within the geography of the region exemplifies the charm of small town life. This is where, throughout history artists, historical figures and pilgrims have gathered to share in the majesty, history, and unique beauty of the Judean hills.    

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SITES TO SEE

Sites

Church of the Visitation

The Church of the Visitation is a Catholic church in Ein Karem, Jerusalem, and honors the visit paid by the Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, to Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. This is the site where tradition tells us that Mary recited her song of praise, the Magnificat, one of the most ancient Marian hymns. The Bible doesn't mention the birth place of John, it only states that Mary went to "a town in the hill country of Judea". One tradition attributes the construction of the first church of Ein Karem to Empress Helena of Constantinople, Constantine I's mother, who identified the site as the home of John's father, Zachary. The courtyard contains a statue of Mary and Elizabeth, and on the wall opposite the entrance to the lower church are forty-two ceramic tablets bearing the verses of the Magnificat in as many different languages. On the facade of the upper church is a striking mosaic commemorating the Visitation. Next to the church proper, a Crusader hall of the 12th century survived in good condition. The lower church contains a narrow medieval barrel-vaulted crypt ending with a well-head from which, according to tradition, Elizabeth and her infant drank. The well is connected to a Roman or Byzantine overflow pipe running under the medieval floor. Also preserved are remains of the ancient church and beautiful mosaic floors. The rock with a cleft next to the entrance of the medieval crypt is said to mark the site where the mountain opened up to hide Elizabeth and the infant John from Herod's soldiers – this is the "Rock of Concealment". This tradition is based on the 2nd-century apocryphal Protoevangelium of James 22:3. The interior of the lower church holds Italianate frescoes depicting Zachary at the altar of the Lord, the Visitation, and Elizabeth hiding her son during the Massacre of the Innocents. The walls of the upper church are decorated with frescoes. Those on the southern wall are depicting five episodes, from left (east) to right (west): The Council of Ephesus (431), which defined Mary as Theotokos or the Mother of God; Mary protecting Christians with her mantle, according to the oldest extant hymn to the Blessed Virgin Mary as Theotokos, the Sub tuum praesidium; the Wedding at Cana; The Battle of Lepanto (1571), in which a united Catholic fleet defeated an Ottoman fleet, a victory ascribed to the help of the Virgin Mary under the title Mary Help of Christians and celebrated by the Catholic Church with the feast of Our Lady of the Rosary; Duns Scotus, supported by the Franciscans, defending his thesis on the Immaculate Conception at the Sorbonne in Paris against the dissenting Dominicans. Behind the altar, a fresco is showing Mary approaching through Judaea, with the Franciscan custos presenting her the model of the church and the Catholic patriarch of Jerusalem of the time in attendance. Verses from the Magnificat are painted on the columns of the church. In the corners are the four cardinal virtues, and around the windows on the left side of the church are Christian writers (Fathers and Doctors of the Church) who have written about the Virgin Mary. The ceiling is painted in the Tuscan style of the 14th century.

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TOURS OF Ein Kerem

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Jewish Style Restaurants

Restaurants

Atalya

Welcome to my home - an inviting space for upscale meals with a spectacular panoramic view of the Judean hills and the magical village of Ein Kerem. Atalya offers exceptional culinary events: meals, workshops, exclusive gatherings, and culinary tours that reveal the deepest secrets of Ein Kerem, Jerusalem, and special culinary corners around the world. Ein Kerem is an ancient and picturesque village that lies on the western slopes of Jerusalem between Mount Ora and Mount Herzl. This charming village is a popular spot for Israelis and foreign tourists who come to take in its beauty and history. Looking out onto the olive tree-covered hills, visitors to Atalya enjoy a taste of Tuscany or Provence, right here in Israel. I was born and raised in the home in which I now host guests from all over the world. Ein Kerem was and will always be my main source of inspiration. When I decided to create my own place in 2010, there was no doubt in my mind that Ein Kerem would serve as the backdrop. After many years of cooking and baking out of a desire to create, I decided to bring together all my greatest loves: food, Ein Kerem, and people. My love for hosting led me to open up my home to the public so that I can connect with the wide range of people who visit every day. Cooking chose me. As early as age 9, I knew what I would be when I grew up. At age 16, I decided to make a living from my hobby, and after several years of working in kitchens, I went to on to study cooking formally. Today, after building and successfully running my business for many years, I am lucky to be able to say that I learn new things, am challenged, and feel excited every single day, and I am filled with the joy that comes from truly creating—from the heart.

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CITY GUIDES

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World Jewish Travel Official May 23, 2022

Ein Kerem, Israel: The Picture Perfect Town of Judea

Nestled in the highlands of Jerusalem, between Mount Ors and Mount Herzl, is the small but iconic and ancient town of Ein Kerem. It holds a substantial place in Jewish history and is known today as a place of artistic prominence and practice. Beauty seems to be the ideal keyword for describing Ein Kerem and even the drive to the town is breathtaking, and built to accommodate the land. The roads move and curve with the mountainside, giving the entire area a very old world feel and appearance.  The History of Ein Kerem The historic town of Ein Kerem has roots in the Old Testament mentioned in the books of Jeremiah and Nehemiah. As far as the land designation of the twelve tribes of Israel, Ein Kerem is located in what was the territory of the tribe of Judah. The historic mountain village also plays a large role in the story of Christianity. This was the place where the mother of Saint John the Baptist miraculously conceived her son. The town was also visited by the mother of Jesus during her pregnancy. The story goes that the two women met at the local town to share in their joy of being pregnant. Today the site is visited by Christians from around the world who come to sip the divine waters of the well. Wells have often been associated with women throughout several religions and Christianity is no exception. Some pilgrims even bring their own plastic water bottles to take the water back home. [caption id="attachment_35814" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Public ancient water well in Ein Kerem, Jerusalem[/caption] The Town of Ein Kerem Today Today Ein Kerem is home to a thriving artist community. The beauty of the landscape combined with the distinct history of the town has drawn in artists from around the world. The biblical rolling hills, iconic heritage sites, and regional legends and stories are commemorated in hundreds if not thousands of artistic renderings and representations. A few of these representations are the work of some of the most respected artists in history, including the legendary Marc Chagall, born Moishe Shagal. In 1962 he donated a series of stained glass windows to the Abbell Synagogue of the Hadassah Medical Centre. The windows are masterpieces of color, light, and composition, paying homage to the twelve sons of Jacob, their professions, accomplishments, and life histories. The concept of life history commemoration is a hallmark of many sites and sanctuaries in Ein Kerem. The Church of Saint John the Baptist, belonging to the Franciscan order of Catholicism, is one such site. Constructed on the spot where the Saint was said to have been born, the entire structure dates back to potentially the Byzantine period. The most current additions to the Church go all the way back to the 11th century, and in the mid 20th century excavations revealed a slew of undiscovered artifacts. Some of these include a wine press, graves, and even rock cut chambers where several ceramic pieces dating to 70 AD were discovered.  [caption id="attachment_35811" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Church of Saint John the Baptist in Ein Kerem[/caption] The other Church that commemorates the life of Saint John the Baptist is the Church of the Visitation. The Church is located on the site where Mary was said to have sung her song of praise. The entire structure is decorated with scenes from the event including several frescos. The original mosaic floor of the Church is still visible as well. The Church also contains the legendary “Rock of Concealment” where Elizabeth and the infant John hid from Herod’s soldiers. The rock miraculously opened up and the new mother and child were able to find sanctuary. After a full day of visiting the historic sites around time, you will want to replenish yourself with a delicious meal at Atalya. Named after the head chef and owner of the restaurant, Atalya is open for private events with a menu crafted entirely by Atalya. Her dishes are inspired by the surrounding land and include corn cakes topped with sardines, focaccia, Israeli salad, and more. [caption id="attachment_35810" align="alignnone" width="1200"] Church of the Visitation in Ein Kerem[/caption] Although the hustle and bustle of big city Jerusalem provides ample history, food, and events for several visits, Ein Kerem offers a more personal experience. The quiet persona of Ein Kerem and its place within the geography of the region exemplifies the charm of small town life. This is where, throughout history artists, historical figures and pilgrims have gathered to share in the majesty, history, and unique beauty of the Judean hills.    

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HOTELS IN Ein Kerem

Hotels

Khan Ein Karem

Khan Ein Karem is an intimate boutique hotel located in a beautifully preserved 19th-century house, whose unique architectural style creates a haven of peace and quiet in the heart of the hills of Ein Kerem. Each one of the spacious four suites has its own unique character, designed to host couples or families. Every room has either its own balcony overlooking a breathtaking view, a private garden, or an outdoor patio. The rooms and other lovely turns and corners in the hotel immerse our guests in an experience of inspiring design and architecture. In addition, the hotel has a shared roof overlooking the breathtaking view of the Ein Kerem village and the surrounding mountains of Jerusalem. Breakfast is served in our kosher dairy dining room which also offers chef meals, crafted by chef Hemdat Goldberg. We’re born and raised in Ein Kerem. We spent our childhood running barefoot and carefree in the alleys of the village, basking in the nature surrounding it and in the halls of our parent’s home, which was open and hospitable for all. Dad was a lightning designer for Khan Theater, mom was the owner of a boutique shop, and running around them and their friends, actors, and actresses from Israel and abroad – were we. The inevitable departure from home was devastating, and we never stopped dreaming about going back to the village, to our lost garden of Eden that contained all our memories from childhood and youth. Now, after it was desolate and abandoned for years, we decided to return to our childhood home and make it a place where we can host our friends and show them the beauty and magic of Ein Kerem.

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