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Ein Keshatot Synagogue

(Golan Heights)

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View east looking down on Ein Keshatot and the Sea of Galilee.

Ancient Synagogue

Byzantine Period, 5th-6th centuries AD

Overview: Ein Keshatot is an ancient Jewish Village on the Golan Heights. The synagogue was discovered in 1884 by Laurence Oliphant, a Scottish Christin Zionist. He later wrote: “I see in the ruins of Um el-Kanatir the best of the discoveries that I have ever made.” Um el-Kanatir is the site’s Arabic name and means “Site of the Arches” (see arches below). The site’s ancient name is not known. The Israeli Government Names Committee gave the site its Hebrew name “Ein Keshatot” or “Keshatot Spring”. The site was opened to the public in 2018 after fifteen years of reconstruction and preservation work.

Timeline: 67 AD - Destruction of Gamla during the First Jewish Revolt against the Romans; 70 AD - Destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem; 150 AD - Establishment of the village at Ein Keshatot; 550 AD - Construction of the synagogue at Ein Keshatot; 749 AD - An earthquake destroys the synagogue and village at Ein Keshatot.

Illustration: An artist’s conception of the ancient synagogue with surrounding houses from the site’s brochure.

Synagogue Details

Ein Keshatot synagogue

The incense shovel was used to rake coals of incense during cultic rituals in the Second Temple Period. The temple menorah was a seven-lamp candelabrum used in the ancient Tabernacle in the desert, the Temple in Jerusalem, and synagogues. The lulav is the closed frond of the date palm tree, and one of the four species used during the Jewish holiday of Sukkot. The etrog is a citrus fruit with a thick rind, and one of the other species used during Sukkot.

Video of inside synagogue (west side).

Sukkot in the Synagogue (painting circa 1894–1895 by Leopold Pilichowski). Notice the different plant species, which are explained in the next column.

Leviticus 23 (the Torah basis for Sukkot):
40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.
41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the Lord seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.
42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:
43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

The four species of Sukkot: Etrog (אתרוג‎) – the fruit of a citron tree; Lulav (לולב‎) – a ripe, green, closed frond from a date palm tree; Hadass (הדס‎) – boughs with leaves from the myrtle tree; Aravah (ערבה‎) – branches with leaves from the willow tree.

The main entrance facing south.

A column from the entrance hall.

The synagogue’s western entrance.

Inside synagogue with western entrance.

Back of synagogue (east side).

Arches and Spring

The arches at the spring.

Site description of arches and spring.

Arches with spring.

Ein Keshatot Village

Tents to protect archaeological dig.

Current archaeological effort.

1,350 of small bronze coins.

Amphora (two-handled) jar used to store wine, water, and oil.

Pottery samples at Ein Keshatot from various sites in the region.

Clay bowels and oil lamps from the 4th to 8th centuries AD.

Ein Keshatot Landscapes

Ein Keshatot

View north across the synagogue overlooking Nahal Samach.

View west across current archaeological effort (covered structures).

Ein Keshatot

View west toward Sea of Galilee and western shore (top of photo).

Ein Keshatot

View northeast toward Nahal Samach and the Golan Heights.

View northeast of Ein Keshatot with “cows of Bashan” on the Golan Heights.

View south of Ein Keshatot. Notice where the plateau drops off below the clouds (see satellite image).

Ein Keshatot

Ein Keshatot

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View east looking down on Ein Keshatot and the Sea of Galilee.

Ein Keshatot

Ein Keshatot

Ein Keshatot synagogue