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To the ends of the land: off the beaten track in Israel

Upcoming Sessions

1. Monday, 13 July, 2020 21 Tammuz 5780

6:00 PM - 7:00 PMZoom

2. Monday, 20 July, 2020 28 Tammuz 5780

6:00 PM - 7:00 PMZoom

3. Monday, 27 July, 2020 6 Av 5780

6:00 PM - 7:00 PMZoom
Past Sessions
Monday, 6 July, 2020 14 Tammuz 5780 - 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM - Zoom

Take a virtual tour to some lesser-known but hugely important sites in Israel, led by tour guide Alex Stein. Ranging from the biblical to the medieval period, these sites have played a crucial role in the history of the land. A biblical city, a reconstructed synagogue, a medieval fortress, and a trading post on the famous Incense Route – these are special places which deserve closer attention. We’ll go in-depth into their history, and learn about what makes them so important.

Please scroll down to register. The Zoom link will be sent out to registered participants an hour or so prior to the session starting.

THE PLACE WITH A WIDE VIEW: KHIRBET QEIYAFA

Khirbet Qeiyafa is one of the most important biblical sites to be uncovered in recent years. Located at a strategically vital point on the border between Judah and Philistia, close to where the battle between David and Goliath is believed to have taken place, its excavators argue that it is the site of biblical Shaaraim, an important Davidic city. Other archaeologists think they are mistaken. We’ll explore the debate surrounding this site and its fascinating finds, including a casemate wall, cult rooms, temple models, the famous Khirbet Qeiyafa Inscription, and - perhaps crucially - no pig bones.

ON THE INCENSE ROUTE: AVDAT

The Nabataeans were Arabian nomads who controlled the crucial ‘Incense Route’ which stretched from Arabia to Gaza. Their most famous city was Petra but they had a number of settlements in present-day Israel, which together form a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Avdat, which was named after Nabataean King Obadas I, is located between Mitzpe Ramon and Sde Boker. Its ruins tell the fascinating story of the Nabateans evolution from nomads to city-dwellers, from traders to farmers, and from pagans to Christians.

THE MOTHER OF ARCHES: UMM EL-KANATIR (EIN KESHATOT)

Located in the Golan Heights, Umm el-Kanatir (‘Mother of Arches’) is the site of a Byzantine-era synagogue that has been nearly completely reconstructed using the original stones. The Jewish community established a flax industry at the site, using the water for washing and whitening flax from which they wove fine cloth. With the proceeds from this industry they were able to build a spectacular synagogue. The synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake in the 8th century which led to the decline of the Jewish community in the Golan. The ruins were discovered in the late nineteenth century; because the site had never been reinhabited, technological advances have allowed the near complete reconstruction of the synagogue into its earlier form. We’ll explore the synagogue and the springs, which offer a wonderful insight into Jewish life in the Golan and the surrounding region during the Byzantine period.

ON THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS: NIMROD’S FORTRESS

Located in the far north of Israel, in the foothills of Mount Hermon, Nimrod’s Fortress was a crucial fortress on the road to Damascus in medieval times. Long believed to have been built by the Crusaders, we now know that it was built by the Crusaders’ antagonists the Ayyubids and then expanded by the Mamluks. Today it’s a wonderful, isolated structure which doesn’t get the number of visitors it deserves. We’ll explore the site, including the beautiful tower and dungeon and Baibars’ dedicatory inscription, and learn more about life in medieval Palestine and the relations between the different groups which coveted it.

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Sun, 12 July 2020 20 Tammuz 5780