Now that we’ve settled in at home in Rockville Centre it’s time to share the rest of our journey in Israel.
Beit She’arim National Park…
Located in the Galilee, Beit She’arim has some of the most dramatic and interesting evidence of the Jewish past in the Galilee and of the Jewish world dating back to Roman times. Bet Shearim was recently chosen as a protected site by the UN and is Israel’s equivalent of Petra. It is less pink and spectacular at first sight than Petra, but this burial ground (necropolis) of the ancient Jewish community is fascinating.
Rabbi Judah HaNasi (135-217 CE), the compiler of the Mishna (Jewish laws), and the main authority for the Jews at that ime, lived here and established a Sanhedrin (council). Beit She’arim became an alternative to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem after the Roman emperor Hadrian had decreed that Jerusalem was off-bounds for Jews. After Rabbi Judah’s death, Bet Shearim became the main site for Jewish burial in Palestine and the Diaspora, for a period of a hundred years. The graves were carved out in the rock, and so the city attracted workmen for quarrying, and for stone cutting and sculpting of the entrance doors to the caves, and the sarcophagi or coffins in which the bones of the dead were laid.