Postcard from Israel – Beit She’arim


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Burial cave of Rabbi Judah HaNassi

The ancient Galilee town of Beit She’arim is famous for having been one of the main Jewish centres of the second to fourth centuries CE due to the fact that one of its prominent residents was Rabbi Judah HaNassi, complier of the Mishna, who also headed the Sanhedrin and moved it to Beit She’arim from Shefar’am. 

In later life, Judah HaNassi moved to Tsippori for health reasons and the Sanhedrin moved with him, but according to his wishes he was buried in Beit She’arim. With the Romans having declared Jerusalem – and therefore the Mount of Olives – out of bounds for Jews in 135 CE after the revolt, Beit She’arim became the burial place of choice for the ‘who’s who’ of the Jewish world both in Israel and the diaspora  and a large number of impressive burial caves and catacombs rediscovered in 1936 display a wealth of interesting artwork, revealing the burial fashions of the Mishnaic Era. 

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4 comments on “Postcard from Israel – Beit She’arim

  1. Bet Shearim is indeed an extraordinary site, with some very interesting findings, such as tombs of Jews who served as “auxiliary troops” to Roman legions. It also disproves the misconception that Jews exiled from their country after the great revolt of 70AD. Actually, a very sizable Jewish community continued to exist in the Land of Israel well into the middle ages, surviving even under the Arab invasion (although suffering quite a bit due to Islamization), with the most serious depopulation occurring at the time of the crusades.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_the_Land_of_Israel

      • I tend to think that ‘CIF Watch’ would be more useful to Israel were it to advertise the many beautiful sites you can visit in the country, rather than spend time bashing journalists in a country committed to freedom of the press.

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