Beit Shearim and Ein Hod: Echoes from the Past
Updated: Apr 22, 2020
Here’s another idea for a hot day. How does a visit to an ancient Necropolis followed by an interactive lecture on musical boxes sound to you? Four families can vouch that it was quite cool in every sense of the word.
Trip Itinerary Options
10:30 Beit Shearim National Park – A UNESCO Heritage Site
14:00 The Nisco Museum of Mechanical Instruments in Ein Hod
15:00 Lunch and back
Beit Shearim National Park
Following destruction of the second temple by the Romans in 70 CE, the center of learning made a number of transitions till it reached the Galilee. Beit Shearim is famous for being a center of study led by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi who passed away in 220 CE. Till his time, all Rabbinical rulings were passed on orally from one generation to the next, but his fear of the limitations of human memory, led to his major work, a compilation of all the oral Rabbinical rulings known in his day in a collection of six books called the ‘Mishna’. Following his example, other Rabbinical rulings were written down in scholarly texts such as the ‘Talmud’. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was able to accomplish his lifetime achievement by maintaining a good relationship with the Roman leadership. In acknowledgment of his goodwill, the Romans gave him several estates under tenancy. Beit Shearim was one of them and that is where he established his familial burial place.
The necropolis served as the central burial place after Jews were barred from burial in Jerusalem by the Romans in 135 CE and continued till its destruction in the 4th century CE during the Jewish revolt against Gallus followed by an earthquake. Jews were brought for burial in Beit Shearim from all over the world. Inscriptions in Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic and Palmyrene indicate that the graves served Jewish families living in the diaspora from even as far as Yemen.
The guided tour includes a visit to a few of the major gravesites out of the dozens excavated in the area, a discussion of the architectural and geological characteristics, how the catacombs were discovered, who the inscriptions and decorations indicate that they belonged to and how they were traced to the ancient city of Beit Shearim. It even includes a short film in the ancient well that was recently discovered and served the city of Beit Shearim. The guided tour is included in the entrance fee to the national park, but you should reserve in advance because the size of the group is limited.
Last, but not least, I couldn’t help myself. I took photos of the lovely Israeli view dotted with the olive, pomegranate and carob trees.
The Nisco Museum of Mechanical Instruments in Ein Hod
Who invented the first phonograph and how does it work? Who was Jacquard and what is his contribution to music and computers? How does a trombone work?
Nisco Cohen, founder of the Nisco Museum is happy to explain, demonstrate and let your kids demonstrate. His humorous, charming delivery took us through a delightful hour-long journey back through time. Since he is American, the tour is suitable for tourists. It is recommended to reserve it in advance.
The collection is the product of 40 years of devotion to the subject and includes music boxes, hurdy gurdies, an automatic organ,a reproducing player piano, a collectionof 100 year old manivelles, gramophones, hand operated automatic pianos and many other antique musical instruments. Finally, he is happy to reserve private lecture-concerts for special occasions with light refreshments and even a musical box workshop activity for young children.
I’ve prepared an ultra-short video just to give you a glimpse.
I’m linking to a few relevant places that I wrote about previously as follows:
Near Beit Shearim is the Maze in Sde Yaacov ‘Mavoch Ba’emek’ and Kibbutz Yagur that I both wrote about in my Passover post.
Because you may choose some of the additional options, I’m providing links to a few restaurants in the Beit Shearim area and to a few in the Ein Hod area as follows:
The nearest hotel is ‘Carmel Forest Spa Resort by Isrotel Exclusive Collection’. You are welcome to see the hotels in my linked posts if you are searching for additional options and to check out my ‘Best B&B’ page.
Considering the drive from the Tel-Aviv area and back, the trip took a day. I left at 9:00 and got back home by 18:00.
This is what it looks like on the map:
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