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JEWISH Tiberias

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One of the four original holy cities of Judaism, Tiberias is renowned for its archaeological sites, hot springs, burial sites, and some of the best meat skewers in the Galilee. The city and its history reflect the different periods of habitation within the region and is tied to several prominent figures in Jewish history. Pilgrims from across the world belonging to all three Abrahamic religions journey to Tiberias to get closer to the physical representations of their faith and the respective histories. Expect your trip to this ancient city to be filled with surprises beyond your wildest imagination.     the city of tiberias with the sea of galilee behind it The History of Tiberias Tiberias’ story begins in 18 AD with the Roman vassal and Tetrarch Herod Antipas, who constructed the city in honor of Emperor Tiberius. Throughout its illustrious and somewhat tumultuous history Tiberias has always hosted a Jewish population. In the days of Herod Antipas, Jews were in the majority with the community growing in numbers after the destruction of the Temple. Jews that remained in Judea fled from Jerusalem to the northern Galilee, making Tiberias the new Jerusalem. Throughout several millennia of conquests the city retained its Jewish community and even managed to turn out some of the most influential texts in Jewish liturgy. These include the editing of the Gemara and the compilation of the Mishnah in 200 AD. The city was overtaken in the Islamic conquest of 636 and since then has hosted a substantial Arab population.  Next came the Crusader period which was in turn ended by the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1187 with the Battle of Hattin. Remnants of all these historic periods can be seen within archaeological sites that even managed to survive a substantial earthquake in 1837. Even with the establishment of British Mandate Palestine in 1922 the city still had a strong Jewish population. When the State of Israel reached independence in 1948, Tiberias was once again a Jewish majority. Today, the city is remarkably similar to various renditions of its past, with archaeological remains scattered throughout the modern architecture. Tiberias is a testament to the art of memory and cultural preservation that has been perfected in Israel - the old married to the new.             Archeological Sites in Tiberias There are several archaeology sites that you can visit and tour located near the city of Tiberias. Just a short twenty-minute drive around the Kinneret is the biblical village of Capernaum. Established in the Hellenistic period of Judean history in the 2nd century, it was the location for several of Jesus’ miracles in the New Testament including the synagogue he was rumored to attend. Today the synagogue is one of the more prominent sites to visit featuring a whole complex including a courtyard and adorned with Judean iconography. Bet Yerah about ten kilometers south of Tiberias is home to remains from a jumble of historic eras. The most recognizable of which are a series of mosaic floors and a Roman fort dating to the 4th and 5th century. Bet Yerah also receives an anonymous mention in the Talmud as one of two cities in the Golan surrounded by high walls. The final archaeological site is Berko National Park. This park contains remains from the ancient site of Tiberias itself, a jewel and prime example of Herod Antipas affinity for opulent architecture. The city even includes an amphitheater which in its heyday could seat a crowd of 7000. Even in the modern era of Tiberias, there is a touch of the archaic.  Must-See Sights The Tiberias hot springs, also known as the Hamat Tiberias National Park, are a series of hot springs all fed through channels that run underneath the city. The hot springs also encompass the remnants of an 18th century Turkish Hamam spa. One of the most breathtaking 3rd century mosaics which belonged to the local synagogue is preserved in the hot springs. The entire area is one deep dive in the relaxation practices of the ancient world. Tiberias is one of the main touchstones of Jewish cultural and religious innovation. It's no wonder that some of Judaims’ most revered sages either lived or were buried in Tiberias. This includes the tomb of Rabbi Akiva of the 1st century Tannaim who was one of the original redactors of the Mishnah. Also the tomb of Rebbe Meir, another first century Tannaim, and even the tomb of the revered author of the Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides. Maimonides spent most of his time working and living in Alexandria and Fustat. However, legend holds that he was later reinterred in Tiberias.  Tiberias is one of the most well-preserved cities in Israel that captures the deep and distinct beauty of the region. It is a pilgrimage site for Jews the world over and carries with it the grandeur of some of the richest periods of Jewish and Christian history. From the gorgeous landscapes to the distinguished archaeology and everything in between Tiberias is a destination that will capture your awe and attention.    

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SITES TO SEE

Sites

Capernaum

Capernaum, in the Galilee of northern Israel is a Biblical village. It sits not far from other important Christian sites in Israel. These include Bethsaida, the Mount of Beatitudes, and Tabgha, as well as the Jordan River and Tiberias on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Today the town of Kfar Nahum (Talhum in Arabic) stands where Capernaum once stood. The site attracts thousands of pilgrims and tourists from around the world every year. In Biblical times Capernaum was one of the main trading villages in the Gennesaret area. It was a vibrant and prosperous part of Palestine, home to about 1,500 people many of whom were fishermen. Many travelers, caravans, and traders passed through Capernaum on the Via Maris. It was main trade route connecting Damascus in the north and Egypt in the south. There remains a Via Maris highway mile stone in Capernaum today. The village was thought to have prospered from the 2nd century BC to the 13th century AD when it reverted to a simple fishing village until the 1800’s. The late establishment of the town explains why Capernaum is not in the Old Testament. The town is deeply significant to Christians as it features prominently in the New Testament. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, brought up in Nazareth, and preached in Jerusalem but it was the significant Galilean Ministry years which he spent in Capernaum and where he performed many of his miracles. Capernaum became his home and the Bible calls it Jesus’ “own city”. Matthew 4:13 tells us that Jesus left Nazareth and went to live in Capernaum after meeting temptation in the wilderness. Here he met James, John, Peter, Andrew all fishermen and Matthew a tax collector, five of his future disciples. Description from Tourist Israel

Sites

Tiberias Hot Springs National Park

The Tiberias Hot Springs National Park, aka Hamat Tiberias National Park, displays one of the most spectacular mosaics of ancient synagogues in Israel. On the site, where the Hot Springs of Tiberias flow, there is also a beautifully preserved 18th century structure of a Turkish Hamam. The Hot Springs – within the national park, 17 thermo-mineral springs flow at a temperature of about 600C, with a saline concentration of 36.5 gr. per liter, the majority in the form of chlorides of sodium and calcium and some potassium, bromide and sulfate. The water flows in a system of underground channels to the Tiberias Hot Baths. The channels are built with chimneys to release steam pressure and visitors to the park can see the steam pouring out of them. Surplus water that does not flow into the Tiberias hot baths are collected in a pool located on-site. The surplus water, and the water returning from the baths after use, is collected in a Mekorot facility located within the site, and is conveyed to the National Saline Water Carrier. The Severus’ Synagogue is located within the precincts of the ancient town of Hammat Tverya, close to the southern wall and the gate of the city. This synagogue underwent three stages. The first synagogue was built about 230 CE, on the remains of an earlier public building. From this synagogue, which was apparently destroyed in the 3rd century, only a small piece of mosaic remains that is displayed at the southern edge of the central mosaic, on a slightly lower level. The second synagogue existed in the 3rd and 4th centuries CE, and left behind a glorious mosaic floor, one of the earliest discovered in synagogues in Israel. The mosaic is divided into three panels. The northern section shows two lions, flanking nine inscriptions in Greek memorializing donors; in the middle – a spectacular Zodiac surrounding an image of Helios, the sun god; and in the southern section – the Ark of the Torah with Jewish symbols such as two seven-branched candelabras, a shofar and a lulav. The synagogue underwent preservation, restoration and reconstruction, and it is surrounded by glass walls enabling eye contact with the scenery, remains of ancient residential buildings and the later synagogue.

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TOURS OF Tiberias

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Jewish Style Restaurants

Restaurants

Little Tiberias Restaurant

Little Tiberias is a quality chef-restaurant with a menu featuring gourmet French Mediterranean cuisine. The restaurant is located inside a building that forms part of the ancient city wall of Tiberias and that dates back to Roman times. Its special setting, as well as the beautifully planned interior, grant Little Tiberias an exclusive European atmosphere, like a little French Riviera on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. The restaurant is family-owned, and was opened by Rafi, the head of the family and the founder. The whole family are culinary specialists, with generations of acquired knowledge. They are headed by the restaurant's chef, David Oudiz, whose kitchen produces excellent original dishes – starters, appetizers, soups and pastas, and succulent main dishes of fish, meat and seafood. As befits a beautifully designed, romantic restaurant in a tourist destination, the clientele of Little Tiberias is very varied – guests are of all ages, foreign and Israeli tourists, couples, and regular clients from the city and the surrounding region who enjoy their dining experience and come back again and again. The atmosphere is relaxed, with a blend of harmonious background music – classical jazz, romantic music, and popular hits. In the 1980s, the building housed a famous pub that was a major leisure attraction in Tiberias and for residents of the region. Later, an Italian restaurant was opened, but in recent years the site was renovated and improved. Some dishes on the menu (like our renowned steak with pepper and cream), remain as before, with all the tradition and know-how that the family accumulated. The restaurant, designed by architect Gadi Shamir, has two wings: the old, authentic wing, with beautiful wood elements of old telephone poles carved in classic style, with wooden wine racks, and a mural painted by the famous Tiberias-born artist – Amos Yaskil. The beautiful new wing is larger, and now offers a bar that's perfect for drinking wine and spirits, and for dining too. You can also sit on the spacious balcony, with its windows offering impressive views. We are happy to cater private events in a separate room.

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CITY GUIDES

Guides

Danny “the Digger” Herman

Chief guide Danny “the Digger” Herman has earned his nickname due to his academic education in archaeology (MA). He lectures at the Hebrew University about Archaeology of Christianity and the New Testament. Danny runs a Youtube vlog and has experience in appearing on various TV productions relating to Biblical Archaeology. He is also the co-owner of the podcast about Jesus and Christian Archaeology. Danny is also the founder and owner of “Danny the Digger’ premium guiding service and tour agency. Hamat Tibeias is a southern suburb of Tiberias, known for its thermal springs both in both modern and ancient times. Next to the modern facility lie the remains of its bath house complex from antiquity. Surprisingly, it also includes a synagogue whose floor was decorated with zodiac and figurative art. History and Archaeology of Hamat Tiberias Hamat Tiberias may be at the location of the Canaanite city of Hammath Joshua 19:35), yet so far, no archaeological evidence was recovered from that period. The site was especially popular in the Roman and Byzantine periods, as its thermal water were believed to have curative powers. The Jewish Talmud referred to it several times, suggesting its water were steamed in the gates of Hell. So far only a small section of the Roman-era baths has been exposed, but in the 1960s an ancient synagogue was uncovered next to the bath house. Used for over 500 years, it was renovated several times. In one of it renovations an ornate mosaic floor was installed, whose main subject is a Zodiac with Helios in the middle. The appearance of a pagan sun-god in the synagogue’s floor continues to buzzle scholars to this day.

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READ MORE BLOGS AND EBOOKS

World Jewish Travel Official May 23, 2022

Tiberias, Israel: An Extraordinary City for the Ages

One of the four original holy cities of Judaism, Tiberias is renowned for its archaeological sites, hot springs, burial sites, and some of the best meat skewers in the Galilee. The city and its history reflect the different periods of habitation within the region and is tied to several prominent figures in Jewish history. Pilgrims from across the world belonging to all three Abrahamic religions journey to Tiberias to get closer to the physical representations of their faith and the respective histories. Expect your trip to this ancient city to be filled with surprises beyond your wildest imagination.     The History of Tiberias Tiberias’ story begins in 18 AD with the Roman vassal and Tetrarch Herod Antipas, who constructed the city in honor of Emperor Tiberius. Throughout its illustrious and somewhat tumultuous history Tiberias has always hosted a Jewish population. In the days of Herod Antipas, Jews were in the majority with the community growing in numbers after the destruction of the Temple. Jews that remained in Judea fled from Jerusalem to the northern Galilee, making Tiberias the new Jerusalem. Throughout several millennia of conquests the city retained its Jewish community and even managed to turn out some of the most influential texts in Jewish liturgy. These include the editing of the Gemara and the compilation of the Mishnah in 200 AD. The city was overtaken in the Islamic conquest of 636 and since then has hosted a substantial Arab population.  Next came the Crusader period which was in turn ended by the Ottoman conquest of the city in 1187 with the Battle of Hattin. Remnants of all these historic periods can be seen within archaeological sites that even managed to survive a substantial earthquake in 1837. Even with the establishment of British Mandate Palestine in 1922 the city still had a strong Jewish population. When the State of Israel reached independence in 1948, Tiberias was once again a Jewish majority. Today, the city is remarkably similar to various renditions of its past, with archaeological remains scattered throughout the modern architecture. Tiberias is a testament to the art of memory and cultural preservation that has been perfected in Israel - the old married to the new.             Archeological Sites in Tiberias There are several archaeology sites that you can visit and tour located near the city of Tiberias. Just a short twenty-minute drive around the Kinneret is the biblical village of Capernaum. Established in the Hellenistic period of Judean history in the 2nd century, it was the location for several of Jesus’ miracles in the New Testament including the synagogue he was rumored to attend. Today the synagogue is one of the more prominent sites to visit featuring a whole complex including a courtyard and adorned with Judean iconography. Bet Yerah about ten kilometers south of Tiberias is home to remains from a jumble of historic eras. The most recognizable of which are a series of mosaic floors and a Roman fort dating to the 4th and 5th century. Bet Yerah also receives an anonymous mention in the Talmud as one of two cities in the Golan surrounded by high walls. The final archaeological site is Berko National Park. This park contains remains from the ancient site of Tiberias itself, a jewel and prime example of Herod Antipas affinity for opulent architecture. The city even includes an amphitheater which in its heyday could seat a crowd of 7000. Even in the modern era of Tiberias, there is a touch of the archaic.  Must-See Sights The Tiberias hot springs, also known as the Hamat Tiberias National Park, are a series of hot springs all fed through channels that run underneath the city. The hot springs also encompass the remnants of an 18th century Turkish Hamam spa. One of the most breathtaking 3rd century mosaics which belonged to the local synagogue is preserved in the hot springs. The entire area is one deep dive in the relaxation practices of the ancient world. Tiberias is one of the main touchstones of Jewish cultural and religious innovation. It's no wonder that some of Judaims’ most revered sages either lived or were buried in Tiberias. This includes the tomb of Rabbi Akiva of the 1st century Tannaim who was one of the original redactors of the Mishnah. Also the tomb of Rebbe Meir, another first century Tannaim, and even the tomb of the revered author of the Guide for the Perplexed, Maimonides. Maimonides spent most of his time working and living in Alexandria and Fustat. However, legend holds that he was later reinterred in Tiberias.  Tiberias is one of the most well-preserved cities in Israel that captures the deep and distinct beauty of the region. It is a pilgrimage site for Jews the world over and carries with it the grandeur of some of the richest periods of Jewish and Christian history. From the gorgeous landscapes to the distinguished archaeology and everything in between Tiberias is a destination that will capture your awe and attention.    

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HOTELS IN Tiberias

Hotels

Shirat Hayam Boutique Hotel

The Shirat Hayam Boutique Hotel lies on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, in front of the Golan Mountains scenery. This rare structure was built entirely of basalt blocks and arches typical of numerous Ottoman style constructions, and in 1850, it opened up with the name “Haifa hotel”. The hotel is among the first hotels to opened in Tiberias, in a time that hotels were called the names of cities in Palestine. In 1946, the hotel was hosted a famous Egyptian singer, Umm cul-tum, nicknamed “the star of of the East” and following the her visit – the hotel was renamed “Oriental star” After the establishment of Israel the famous artist Shimshon Holzman lived in in the building, where he created an art gallery that was available to visitors. Among the numerous bohemian visitors that stayed at the hotel, a few are many famous artists: Nahum Gutman, Reuven Rubin, Amos Yaskil, and obviously, Holtzman himself. One of the most famous paintings of the place drawn by Gutman called “the promenade in Tiberias”. For several years the hotel was reconstructed from its foundations, the unique rooms and porches were preserved and its now knows today as “Shirat Hayam” boutique hotel. Preserving the nature beauty of the structure, while creating a perfect harmony and well-planned integration between the old and the new, the compound provides an atmosphere of peace and tranquility in front of the scenery of the Sea of Galilee. Shirat Hayam Boutique Hotel is located on the “Yigal Allon” promenade in the city of Tiberias, on the shores of Lake Kinneret. The Hotel is located in the heart of an open museum where sculptures are displayed of the best-known sculptures, among them Ilana Goor, Amos Yaskil, Payne and many others, and represents the renewing core of the Tabernacle of culture and Arts.

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