Sunday, October 17, 2010

Ancient Graves in the Galilee

Part of the ancient cemetery in Zfat (Safed).

Photo: Miriam Woelke


The fascinating thing in northern Israel is that, anywhere you go, you stumble over ancient graves from Tannaim (Talmudic Rabbis) or other famous Jewish personalities and Rabbis. You walk around in downtown Tiberias and suddenly you see an ancient building with a blue rooftop or a marked cave. This is usually the sign for another ancient famous grave.

The same when you hike in the Meron area or elsewhere in the Galilee. I find it just an amazing !


  1. Do you automatically believe in the historicity of these grave sites?

  2. B"H

    No, I don't but some of them do have a long historical tradition. Such as the Kever of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai, for instance.

    Everyone seems to claim that Rabbi Akivah's grave is the right location and that the location of his first wife's Kever is a fake. However, a historical guide from Tiberias told me that it is rather questionable whether Rabbi Akivah's grave is really his. There is a weird story about a woman who got lost in the dark, fell into a pit (next to an ancient grave) and suddenly heard Rabbi Akivah talking to her that he would be buried in the grave. In order to remember the exact location, the woman marked her way with stones and then ran to Tiberias (in those days, the town was small and a little further away at the lake) in order to tell the people what she had discovered.