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The Holy City of Tiberias
Established by Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great, Tiberias was the planned capital of the Galilee region and named for the Roman Emperor Tiberius. Tiberias is one of Israel's four holy cities – the others are Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed – with a long history and respected pedigree as a place of Jewish study and culture in ancient as well as modern times. Located on the shores of Lake Kinneret, modern day Tiberias is also one of Israel's favorite vacation spots for enjoying the natural hot springs and beautiful beaches.
City of Rabbis and Learning
Antipas’s new city was spurned by Jews who felt that it was unclean because of an old cemetery located at the gates of the ancient city that ‘contaminated’ the city and made it unfit for the living. The destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem sent Jews fleeing to the northern part of the country and with the removal of the Sanhedrin - the legislative body of ancient Israel - to Tiberias, the city suddenly became a center for Jewish life. The Mishnah - the Oral Law given to Moses on Mount Sinai - was first put into writing by a group of rabbis living in Tiberias.
After a few centuries of unrest and changing hands, Tiberias became a Jewish hub when Sephardic Jews fleeing the Spanish Inquisition settled in the city in the sixteenth century. Many famous scholars and religious leaders of the time are buried in Tiberias, including renowned thinker, physician and scholar, Moses Maimonides and Kabbalist teacher Moshe Chaim Luzzatto who is buried next to what is thought to be the grave of Rabbi Akiva.
Relax in Tiberias
Swim and boat on Lake Kinneret or take a dip in the nearby hot springs at Hamat Gader, complete with tropical gardens, exotic birds and crocodiles. Return to Tiberias for a fresh fish dinner – St. Peter’s fish is one of the local specialties, fried crisply to a delectable crunch.
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