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Geography of Israel: Peki'in

There are some places where time seems to have stopped still. Such is Peki’in, an intriguing picturesque village in the Upper Galilee where modern development has not changed much of the old homes and alleys.

Peki’in is a story of harmony, a village where Christian Arabs, Druze and one ancient Jewish family have lived peacefully together for centuries. Peki’in was a farming village since the time of the Second Temple 2,000 years ago. Since that time only one Jewish family has stayed in place. Arab settlement in Peki’in started in the 11th century CE with Arab Christians who were joined a century later by Crusaders. In the 18th century Druze families moved into the village and another 10 Jewish families have moved there during the past few years.

The heart of the village is a warren of narrow alleys that lead to the old center of Peki’in, the village spring. In the center there is a synagogue built in 1873 which has in its walls two stones reputedly taken from the walls of the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. The synagogue is locked but can be visited with prior coordination.

To the south of the village one can find the Rabbi Simon Bar Yohai cave, where Bar Yohai, according to Jewish legend, hid from the Romans with his son Elazar. A carob tree grows at the entrance to the cave, which also has a spring. Legend has it that Bar Yohai and his son ate the carobs and drank the spring water during the 12 years in which they hid in the cave. A later tradition says that it was here that Bar Yohai wrote the Zohar, the foundation of Kabbala, the Jewish mystic discipline.

The village is also home the second largest Greek Orthodox church in Israel, which was built in 1894 on the ruins of an older church and is open in Sundays and Christian holidays.

Peki’in has accommodation in guesthouses, special restaurants, colorful shops, a factory that makes soap from olive oil and many friendly people. The countryside around the village is also interesting with beautiful nearby nature reserves such as  the Mount Meron, Nakhal Meron, the Mitlol Tsurim reserves as well as tourist attractions such as the Monfort Lake, the Open Museum at Tefen and the rock park at Kisra-Samia.

Sources: Copyright © 2001 Gems in Israel All rights reserved. Reprinted with Permission.