Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Rashbi) in Peki’in
Rashbi, said to be the author of the mystical “Zohar”, hid in this cave in Peki’in with his son both buried up to their necks in sand, and was saved by the carob tree and the spring. Rashbi is one of the most popular “saints” of modern Jewry. His followers visit his cave in Peki’in and his grave in Meron. His memory is celebrated on the Jewish holiday “Lag B’omer”.
Notice the statues of Druze heros with Druze flag in the ancient well in the center of town. This square has become a tourist attraction with restaurants, zimmers and shops. It is only a short walk down from the Rashbi cave through the residential area to the Well.
The Ancient Synagogue in Peki’in
Margalit Zinati holds the key to the old Jewish synagogue. She inherited it from her father who was in charge of all the Jewish holy sites in the village. She was kind enough to open the synagogue for our tour. Although Moti Aviam made an extensive archaeological dig the earliest ancient synagogue was not found. Relics or perhaps copies of relics from later periods can be seen in the synagogue.
Modern Jewish Peki’in
The Jews of Peki’in had to leave the village during the Arab riots of 1939 and also during the War of Independence in 1948. Very few return to their homes. Today only two Jews live in the village, Margalit Zinati and Ilan Toma-HaCohen.
The Druze are the overwhelming majority of the village population. During the War of Independence the Druze decided to side with the Jews of Palestine and have remained loyal citizens ever since. Many of their young men serve in the IDF.
Most of the Christian Arabs in Peki’in have moved to new neighboring village, unofficially called Buqei’a al Gharbieh “West Peki’in” as opposed to the official name “Machoul”.
One can find many B & B’s, restaurants and even a hotel in the village. Tourism is replacing agriculture as the main source of income.
Once a Center of the Silk Industry
During the Ottoman Period the Jews of Tzfat and Peki’in grew mulberry trees for the local silk industry. One tree still stands proudly next to the spring.
Social Unrest in Peki’in