The City Of Tiberias
The city of Tiberias is the only city located on the Sea of Galilee’s shores on its western side. It is a vital tourist centre, not only because of its proximity to the Sea of Galilee but also because of its great importance to Judaism. Joseph ben Matityahu and Sage sources say that its founder Herod Antipas, son of Herod King of Judah, named the city Tiberias in honour of the Roman emperor Tiberius. Another meaning of its name comes from the Aramaic word Tiberias.
According to the Babylonian Talmud, the reason for its name was due to its location. Indeed, the city is in the navel of Israel: “Rabbi Jeremiah said: Only her name and why is her name called Tiberias? Which sits in the navel of the Land of Israel.” The geographical location of Tiberias is also unique, being the lowest city in Israel, at an altitude of about 210 meters below sea level; moreover, the city lies on the mountain slope rising from the Sea of Galilee. Combining the rich history, its holy sites, and the unique tourist sites in the city and its surroundings, every trip to Tiberias is impressive.
Tiberias And Judaism
The “Jewish Courtyard” was established by Rabbi Chaim Abulafia II and several families. In 1740, they moved from Izmir’s city in Turkey to the town of Tiberias, as the city’s Jewish quarter. To this day, in the “Jewish Courtyard,” the ancient synagogues are active, and it is certainly possible, and it worths visit them:
- The ‘Etz Chaim Synagogue‘ was established by Rabbi Chaim Abulafia II, about two years after he arrived in the city for the Jews living in the area. Moreover, the Sephardic community named it the Great Synagogue of Tiberias. The impressive structure went through destructions and restorations several times; nevertheless, it has kept its unique beauty. Also, there is a unique mikveh in the building, which functions according to the law of interlocking vessels, which is active when the Kinneret’s water level is high.
- The Synagogue of the First Chassidim in Tiberias, whose name is also the Karlin Stolin Synagogue, dates back to 1786 when Rabbi Avraham of Kalisk and Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk, headed the Hasidic community and founded this synagogue. Indeed, it is the first synagogue of the Hasidic community. Moreover, this synagogue underwent destruction and rebuilding several times. However, nowadays, the building is impressive and remarkable.
Tombs Of The Righteous In The City Of Tiberias
Due to its sanctity and importance, many rabbis and tzaddikim aimed to be buried in Tiberias. Today, the tombs of the righteous in the city are places of pilgrimage and class of prayer.
- The Complex of Maimonides Tomb is a large building with decorations and amid a wall, where Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, i.e. Maimonides, is buried together with his father, and grandson. Outside the building, there are tombs of Tzaddiks and other rabbis such as Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, the holy Shlomo Rabbi Yeshaya Halevi Horowitz, the Amoraim Rabbi Ami, Rabbi Asi, and Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus.
- Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes’ tomb is on the Sea of Galilee’s shores and where there are the tombs of Rabbi Meir Baal Hanes and his disciples. The tomb site includes two complexes, the Sephardic complex, and the Ashkenazi complex. Moreover, it had been an active and famous burial site since the 18th century, following the charitable funds for the poor of Israel he operated, and their lofty and essential purpose.
Later on, dozens of tombs of well-known tzaddikim and rabbis are located in the city, whose visit will be a meaningful spiritual experience.
The Sea of Galilee – The Largest Lake In Israel
Apart from holy sites, leisure, sunbathing, and bathing in the Sea of Galilee are part of a journey in Tiberias. Indeed, in Tiberias, there are several beaches such as The Gai Beach, with a water park for children and families, The Separate Beach for the religious public, The HaTchelet Beach, i.e. The Light-Blue Beach, the Holiday Inn Beach, with entertainments for adults and children, and The Beriniki Beach, with options for camping. Also, outside Tiberias, the spectacular shores of the Sea of Galilee worth a visit. Besides its popular and charming sites, the city has many hotels, restaurants, promenades, activities for families, and various surprises.