The charming Upper Galilee village of Rekhaniya is home to some 1,200 Israelis of Circassian descent. Their ancestors, like those of Israel’s other Circassian village, Kfar Kama in the Lower Galilee, came from the northern Caucasus Mountains, the region where Europe meets Asia. Following defeat in the 19th century in a long war against the Russian Empire, the Circassians, who converted from Christianity to Islam in the 17th century, were exiled to Ottoman Turkish areas, including the Mediterranean.
Rekhaniya, located in the rugged mountains north of Safed, was founded in around 1880. Its people proudly celebrate their traditional culture, crafts, martial arts and culinary skills by welcoming visitors to tour their village, enjoy a meal specializing in Circassian goat-cheese delicacies, and stay overnight at their country-style accommodations. After learning about Circassian customs and history at the museum, you can take a guided walking tour of the village to see traditional architecture, including the restored old village gate-arch. The museum sometimes puts on a special treat: a Circassian folklore show including music and dancing in traditional costumes.
Sources: Israeli Foreign Ministry