Following the destruction of the 2nd Temple in Jerusalem in 70 CE, the Jewish people needed to adapt to their new grim reality. The rabbinical council, the Sanhedrin, wandered from Yavne to the Lower Galilee, keeping a low profile and trying to revive a Jewish community devastated by the revolt and ensuing destruction.

We will follow the Sanhedrin’s footsteps, learning, exploring and studying Mishnah, Talmud, and other sacred Jewish texts created at the time. We will also learn about the modern birth of an ‘Israeli Judaism’, a diverse, progressive, egalitarian, movement that is currently changing the Jewish landscape in the Galilee and in Israel.

Anat Harrel, licensed tour guide, will guide, lead and provide the historical content.
Ian Chesir-Teran, Rabbi-in-training, will teach, lead the text study and provide the Jewish content.

(Ian Chesir-Teran is a rabbinical student at the Jerusalem campus of the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.   The three pillars of Ian’s Judaism and future rabbinate are: egalitarianism; taking ownership of one’s Judaism, and building bridges by sharing sacred stories.  Ian is a 1995 graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center.  While training to become a rabbi, Ian practices US law from his office in the Lower Galilee.  In his spare time, Ian enjoys ceramics and playing the xaphoon.  Originally from New York and New Jersey, Ian and his family made aliyah and moved to Kibbutz Hannaton in 2010.)

“In the Footsteps of the Sanhedrin:
A Sacred Jewish Texts Study Tour of the Galilee”

Day 1

•    We start on Mt Carmel with a gorgeous view of the Lower Galilee, and an introduction to the historical era and the role of the Sanhedrin

Text Study:  Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Rosh Hashanah 31a-b (Tracing the footsteps of the Sanhedrin)

•    Usha – the Sanhedrin’s first stop in the Galilee from about 80 to 116 CE. We will visit the village ruins and explore the ancient wine press carved into the limestone rock usha ruins

Text Study:  Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Bava Kama 89a-b (the rabbinic decrees of Usha)

•    The Shabbat Stone – as we walk down an ancient Roman road that led from Acco to Zippori, we will come upon an etched stone which served as a Shabbat boundary between villages.

Text Study: Mishnah, Tractate Yevamot 16:6; Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin 13b-14a

•    Rabbi Ben Baba’s gravesite – we will Rabbi Yehuda Ben Baba’s burial cave and learn how he cleverly defied the Romans

Text Study: Tosefta, Tractate Bava Kama Chapter 8 (anecdotes about Rabbi Ben Baba, including his rabbinic heroism during Roman rule);

•    Shefar’am – this mixed Muslim/Christian/Druze/Bedouin Arab city also once included Jewish neighbors. It was the second Galilean stop for the Sanhedrin in the 2nd century CE. We’ll visit the old synagogue, the Greek Catholic church, the lovely mosque and the House of Peace center for Arab-Jewish co-existence

yehuda hanasi cave•    Beit Shearim – Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi, one of the greatest rabbis of the Roman era, was born here, the Sanhedrin’s third stop in the Galilee.  Today, this unique necropolis tells its story through the exploration of burial caves, sarcophagi and graves

Text Study: Genesis Rabbah 11:4; Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Makkot 10a; Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Ketubot 104a (anecdotes about Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, including the story of his death)

•    Accommodations: Kibbutz Hannaton – we stay the night at the kibbutz guest house.  During our evening program, we will meet some of the kibbutzniks who are creating a unique Jewish place; progressive, egalitarian, diverse and religious. We will enjoy a lovely dinner and wine tasting at the Jezreel Valley Winery on the kibbutz, and will have the opportunity to immerse in a mikveh, a Jewish ritual bath.

Text Study:  Kibbutz Hannaton’s Takkanon (“Constitution”); Guidelines from Kibbutz Hannaton’s Va’adat Beit Kenesset (“Synagogue Committee”)

Hannaton menorah

Day 2

•    Tzippori – the Galilean Roman capital and commercial center during the first few centuries CE, it was alsosynagogue mosaic where the Mishna was canonized and signed by Rabbi Yehuda HaNassi. We will walk the streets of the Roman city, be awed by the ‘Mona Lisa of the Galilee’ and study the puzzling mosaic on the 6th century synagogue floor.

Text study:  Introduction to Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah (Maimonides explains the historical and religious significance of the Mishnah); Mishnah, Tractate Berachot 1:1 (the very first Mishnah in Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s monumental work)

•    Tiberias – one of the four holy Jewish cities, Tiberias was founded as a Roman city in 20 CE and only became an important Jewish center after it was made ‘kosher’ by Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in the 2nd century. It was here that the Sanhedrin ended it’s travels, the Jerusalem Talmud was written and where several important rabbis chose to be buried. We will visit the ancient Roman city and theater and pay a visit to the tombs of Rabbi Meir Ba’al HaNes and the Rambam

Text Study:  Selections of Masoretic notes to the Bible; Selection from the Jerusalem Talmud.

If you wish to book this tour or find out more information, click here