You might spend a lifetime discovering the numerous wonders that Israel offers, including history, religion, and culture. But what remains true is the fact that Israel is the Promised Land to Jews. It is the land where God exhibits his divine presence. This land holds immense importance in the religious and spiritual lives of the followers of Judaism. So, when you visit Israel, make a pilgrimage to the Jewish holy sites to strengthen your spiritual connection.
Jewish holy sites in Israel:
King David’s Tomb
One of Israel’s holiest sites, this tomb is located opposite the Old City’s Zion Gate. It is the burial place of King David. You can explore the Room of the Last Supper (holy to Christians). There’s also a roof structure with a tower and viewing point over Jerusalem located above it. Before 1967, people could go up here to view the Old city, which was inaccessible to them for the first 19 years of Israel’s existence.
For Jews, the Temple Mount is the holy place where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son, Isaac, at God’s request. It is also the location of two ancient temples (built by Solomon and Herod). The Western Wall is the retaining wall that still survives to this day. While walking around the Old city, there is one spot where you can see and touch what very well may be the last remaining pillar from the Temple. Be sure to ask your guide about it!
Mount of Olives Jewish Cemetery
Jerusalem’s oldest and most important cemetery. It dates back over 500 years. It has anything from 70,000 to 140,000 graves and is home to several prominent rabbis. The Mount of Olives also contains the graves of the Prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, which have been revered by Jews since medieval times. In the modern era, the resurrector of the Hebrew language, Eliezer Ben Yehuda was buried here as well. Discover what the “valley of the Shadow of Death” is while walking through this cemetery.
The Western Wall (also known as the Kotel) is the sole intact building from King Herod’s Second Temple. It is the holiest place for Jews. They visit from all over the world to pray here. Standing at this site is a profound and emotional experience for people of faith and others too.
According to Jewish belief, it is the grave of the medieval scholar Nachmanides. It is located in the Upper Kidron Valley (aka the Ramban). Consider hiring a certified tour guide for a better experience.
This settlement near Safed has the tomb of Honi the Circle-Maker, as well as the graves of his two grandchildren. According to legend, Honi could generate rain via prayer, and many Hassidic pilgrims worship here today.
The burial site of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai is located on Mount Meron (and the hamlet of the same name) in Upper Galilee. Tens of thousands of ultra-orthodox Jews climb the mount as part of a pilgrimage each year on the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer. There is also a beautiful nature trail on the peak of the mountain with 360 degree views.
This settlement is named after one described in the Mishnah (a Jewish sacred book) and is said to be the resting place of Rabbi Hananya ben Akshaya, who lived hundreds of years ago.
According to Jewish tradition, this is one of Mount Dov’s summits and the location where Abraham made a covenant with God.
Safed, a historic hub for Kabbalah (an esoteric Jewish school of thought), became a holy city following the expulsion of Jews from Spain in 1492, who migrated here. Interestingly, according to Jewish belief, the town was established here after the biblical deluge by one of Noah’s sons. Its cemetery contains the graves of many Jewish leaders. Today, Safed (Tsfat) is home to a magnificent artist colony. Art here is inspired by Kabbalah. Some of the best art in Israel can be found in Safed, including artists such as Mark Chagall and Nicki Imber.
Tiberias is one of the four sacred cities in Judaism (along with Jerusalem, Safed, and Hebron). It’s famous for being the site of the composition of the Jerusalem Talmud, located on the banks of the Sea of Galilee. According to a Jewish legend, it was built around 20 CE on the site of the old Israelite settlement of Rakat by Herod the Great’s son.
Masoretes existed in Tiberias as well (Jewish scribes, who lived in the area between the 5th and 10th centuries CE). Tiberias is still a holy city today because of the vast number of rabbis who established the city as a hub for Jewish learning in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The final resting place of Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi is an extraordinary necropolis. Jews from all over the world wanted to be buried near the Rabbi who edited the sacred Mishnah 1800 years ago. Over the next hundreds of years, Jews would pay to be delivered and placed in a cave near Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi in caskets called “Sarcophagi”. While walking through the caves you will feel just like Indiana Jones finding ancient antiquities!
Whether you’re visiting Israel for the first time or have been there many times before, don’t miss out on these must-see sights for a memorable Holy Land experience. Don’t hesitate, and reach out to us for more information.