Your tour guide will tell you that remains of ancient Kfar Bar’am prove a continued Jewish presence in the Galilee long after The Great Revolt (66-70 C.E.) and The Bar Kochva Revolt (132-135 C.E.) However it also retains a narative of Maronite Christians who lost their homes during the Israeli War of Independence.
The Ancient Synagogue at Bar’am
Bar’am National Park is between Kibbutz Sasa and Moshav Dovev, near the Lebanese border of Israel. Here you can find the ancient synagogue from the period of the Talmudic.
Note that the architecture of the synagogue is very similar to the Canaanite temple found in the nearby ancient Canaanite village of Kedesh. The architecture of the synagogue is definitely classical 1st or 2nd century C.E., however the coins found buried underneath the floor stones (for good luck) are between 317 to 451 C.E. If one looks closely you can find several point of asymetry in the facade, doorways and lintels. This leads archaeologists to suggest that the Kfar Bar’am synagogue was built from 2nd hand stones retrieved from olders building either deserted or destroyed by earthquake.
An inscription found in the nineteenth century in one of the two great synagogues of Baram stated, “Peace be upon this place and upon all of the places of Israel.”
Near the window of the synagogue, an Aramaic inscription reads, “Built by Elazar son of Yuden (or Yudan).”
The fate of the Jewish villagers still remains a mystery. It is believed that the Jewish community in Baram came to an end around the Crusader period,
Following the suppression of the Bar Kokhba Revolt, Jews living in the Galilee continued to live in their ancestral homeland and helped the Jewish people to maintain their faith and their unity, by producing the Palestinian Talmud.
How to get there: The park is located on the Sasa-Bar‘am road (no. 899) about half a kilometer from the junction of the new northern road (about 3 km east of the Hiram junction).
Length of tour: 1-2 hours
Level of difficulty: Easy
Best season: Spring, summer, fall
Wheelchair access: Wheelchair-accessible trail up to the synagogue; handicapped toilet; handicapped parking
- April-September 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
- October-March 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
- Fridays and holiday eves: 8 A.M.
Entrance to dogs: permitted
Entrance fee required.
These are ruins are of a Maronite Christian village, built over the remains of an ancient Jewish village of the same name, Kfar Bar’am. The village was abandoned in 1948 and bulldozed by Israel in 1949. Israeli insisted that the border area with Lebanon be secured and that the Christian inhabitants of the town should be “temporarily” evicted from their homes. Most of the residents moved down the road to Gush Halav. Their children and grandchildren continue to fight in the Israeli courts to get the village back.
Elias Chacour: Standing On The Wall
Melkite Catholic Archbishop of Israel and author of Blood Brothers, Father Elias Chacour, calls for peace. He insists that Christians can stand on the wall and they do not have to take sides. During the Israeli War of Independence his family took refuge in the neighboring village of Jish, after his village Bir’im was occupied by Jewish Yishuv forces. Chacour and his family became Israeli citizens in 1948, after the establishment of the state. He studied theology at St. Sulpice Seminary in Paris. Returning to Israel in 1965, he was ordained a priest. He later studied Bible and Talmud at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem as well as Aramaic and Syriac, becoming the first Arab to gain a higher degree there.