This Holy Place in situated in the region of the Golan and close to other famous places like Nimrod’s Castle or Banias Spring Church. All these places of pilgrimage were filmed for you in VR 360 by the team of 360HolyPlaces™.
When the Six-Day War ended, an archaeological survey was performed in the Golan Heights aimed at exposing the secrets of the past. Archaeologist Shmaryahu Gutman arrived at a Bedouin village known as “Katzrin”. His eye fell on a splendid adorned lintel resting on two posts that towered over the ruins. It was the doorway to the ancient synagogue of Katzrin. The structure had stood there for almost 1500 years waiting to tell the story of an ancient Jewish community whose history is engraved on these basalt stones. Jewish settlement in the Golan Heights reached its peak during the Byzantine Period (4th -7th centuries CE), when Katzrin flourished alongside scores of Jewish villages. Engraved menorahs, Hebrew and Aramaic inscriptions, and synagogues that were excavated throughout the Golan Heights, are evidence of this thriving settlement.
The Olive Press who brings forth bread from the olive
We stand in front of the reconstructed olive press (the stone parts are original ) where the people of Katzrin produced oil during the olive harvest season. The olives were placed in the stone basin (y am), and then crushed by turning the heavy crushing stone (memel). The mash was then collected into round pressing baskets called aqel(s). In the second stage of production each aqel was placed in the direct pressure screw press, and pressurized until the oil fiowed. This precious commodity had many uses in ancient times; fuel for lighting, consumption and preservation, cosmetic, and medicinal . Olive oil production was the chief source of income of the Talmudic era villages in the Golan Heights. Production far exceeded local consumption and excess olive oil was sold throughout the Bashan and Horan. Convoys of camels and donkeys carried the oil eastwards, where it was sold. The area, however, experienced a steep decline in security beginning with the Muslim conquest in the 7th century CE. Roads were no longer safe for travel or trade which led to a severe decline in economic conditions in Katzrin and the surrounding villages . A level and weight press is also on display, as well as a wall mural that illustrates the use of the crushing device. The House of Bread We are delighted to host you with excellent Talmudic type fare. The aroma of freshly baked bread in the courtyard oven induces the joy of humble and nutritious eating. We offer baskets of hot pita bread alongside earthenware vessels fi lled with olive oil and za’atar, fresh labaneh, olives and jam. These locally produced foods will give you a taste of the fiavors of the Golan Heights. The courtyard holds an exhibit of various millstones depicting the toils which man underwent until producing his sustenance. ~
The House of Uzi The Chief Cornerstone
At the entrance to the village, an unfinished house greets you. It appears as though the workers are taking a break and are soon to return. Demonstrating ancient building methods, this house is named after Uzi whose name appears as a builder in the Aramaic inscription excavated here. Houses were usually built using stones roughly chiseled by hammers, hatchets, and chisels, then held together by mortar. Cornerstones, large stones that were carefully chiseled and used to stabilize the entire structure, were incorporated into the corners. The sages of the Mishnah established regulations for building, such as not opening a window opposite the neighbors’ window, to avoid infringing on the privacy of others. (Bava Batra 2, 4).
The House of Rabbi Abun A candle, a spindle, and a cauldron
We now enter the house named for Rabbi Abun whose tombstone was discovered in the village. The house and its contents were reconstructed to enable the visitors a glimpse into everyday life of the period. Clay vessels – dishes, storage jars, and cauldrons – were masterfully crafted by a potter replicating the vessels that were excavated here . Reconstruction crafts including weaving , carpentry, and blacksmithing were performed using traditional methods and tools. The oven used during the winter is located in the kitchen near the millstone. The lounge, lit up with oil candles, is where the family gathered for meals and in the evening slept on mats on.the floor . Large oil and wine vats were stored in the “pantry and the agricultural tools were held in the storeroom. Climb the wooden ladder to the loft and from there exit into the courtyard. The ovens here were used for cooking and baking , this is where the clothes were washed, and the chickens roamed free .
The Synagogue Matter and Spirit
The highlight of the Katzrin excavations is the Ancient Synagogue. Towering above the dwellings, the Synagogue was built of large and carefully chiseled ashlar. The lintel – adorned with jugs and pomegranates – conveys just some of the synagogue’s grandeur in ancient times. Two rows of decorated columns divide the area into three spaces and supported the ceiling of this vast hall . The worshipers, congregating for prayer and Torah reading, sat on stone benches adjacent to three walls. The wooden ark housing the Torah scrolls stood on a stone dais abutting the southern wall, facing Jerusalem. The Construction of such a large and magnificent edifice would have required a great deal of capital. The presence of the synagogue is an indicator of both the wealth of the Katzrin community and the importance of the synagogue in communal life. A devastating earthquake that struck in the winter of 749 CE destroyed the synagogue and brought the end of the period of prosperity for the Jewish Talmudic era settlements in the Golan Heights . To day, 1500 years later, the synagogue is once again filled with the sounds of visitors and prayer . A scribe is hunched over parchment in the synagogue, writing with a quill. We invite you to experience the atmosphere of the Ancient Synagogue and the scribe’s venerable art .
The Enigma of the Name
Does the name Katzrin, the Arab name of the site, preserve the ancient name? Names of ancient settlements were preserved in places that were continuously inhabited throughout the ages. Here, in the central Golan Heights, there was no continuous settlement; the Arab names were more recently given and do not preserve a more ancient tradition. Thus, the mystery regarding the ancient name of this settlement remains unsolved.
One Good Experience is better than 1000 Words
The staff at Ancient Katzrin offers the visitors a wide variety of activities for every age and season: a guided tour of the Talmudic village , street theater and encounters with local villagers, a rich Talmudic meal, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, musical performances in a unique atmosphere, agricultural activities at the olive press, the wine press, and the threshing floor . Reservations are required for activities. The Talmudic Experience interior is modeled after a Talmudic period Synagogue comprising murals, a mosaic floor, and stone benches. It houses a dramatic audiovisual presentation that is projected on 6 screens, placing the viewer in the midst of an intense Talmudic discussion. Choose between two Talmudic stories: “Oven of Akhnai” (Mishnah Kelim 5, 10,) or Rabbi Meir and Akher”( Bavli Hagigah 15a )
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