With the help of G-d Almighty

Hanukkah 5783 in Jericho

Outdoor hanukkia in Beit Hogla east of Jericho
The Hanukkia in Beit Hogla

Second Hanukkah Light

Between 9:00 and 12:00: Tour of the Hasmonean Winter Palaces, including Herod's Third Palace. Followed by a tour of the Second-Temple Priestly Burial Caves, where the Priests who served in the Second Temple are buried.

Set-off from Mitzpe Yericho at 9:00 using your own car. People who come without cars must find places in available cars. Cost 40 NIS per person.

Fourth Hanukkah Light (Evening)

Between 18:30 and 20:00: Lighting of the fourth Hanukkah candle at the ancient Shalom al Israel Synagogue in Jericho.

A bus leaves the Jerusalem: at 16:45 from the Chords Bridge, and at 16:55 from Bar Ilan. It picks-up at Moshav Naama, on Highway 90 at 18:20 - see the map. Cost 40 NIS per person.

Fourth Hanukkah Light (Morning)

Tour of the Biblical Gilgal - the Circumcision Hill, the Jordan Crossing (the place where Joshua Bin Nun crossed the Jordan River), and Biblical Beit Hogla.

Visit to the Jericho Visitor Centre located at the modern-day Beit Hogla farm. Opportunity to buy locally-grown organic produce at the Beit Hogla Farm Shop.

By private vehicles. We meet at Beit Hogla at 09:00. Finish around 12:00 midday. Cost 40 NIS per person.

Seventh Hanukkah Light

Between 9:00 and 13:00: Tour of four sites in Jericho: The ancient Shalom al Israel synagogue, the Elisha Spring, Tel Jericho and the ancient Naaran synagogue in the north of Jericho.

A bus leaves Jerusalem: at 7:45 from the Chords Bridge, and at 7:50 from Bar Ilan. It picks-up at Moshav Naama, on Highway 90 at 8:50 - see the map. Cost 60 NIS per person, for families 40 NIS per person.

Info & Registration

You must register in advance: Register on-line (in Hebrew), or send a text message / WhatsApp to Yoni at 052-3527313, or Erna at 052-8699300, stating your name, the number of participants, the tour you desire, and where you want to board the bus (if applicable).

* All tours are guided by Erna Covos.

* Security inside Jericho and in the area of the Hasmonean Palaces is assured by the Israel Defence Forces.


The Sites to be Visited

Shalom al Israel Synagogue

The ancient synagogue is from the Byzantine period, and is located near Tel Jericho and the Elisha Spring.

This synagogue was, without a doubt, built by a Jewish community that understood Jewish values, for the symbols on the mosaic floor teach us about the possible combinations to bring peace, holiness, unity, and prayer. And unlike most synagogues of the period, no hellenistic symbols are found on the mosaic (in contrast to the Naaran synagogue, also in Jericho), and there are no names of benefactors.

On the contrary, an inscription on the mosaic states that "All members of the community are remembered for a blessing, the great and the small…He who knows their names and the names of their wives and the names of their kinfolk will inscribe them in the Book of Life together with all the righteous".

A tradition says that this may have been the place where Joshua was met by the Angel of G-d before embarking on the conquest of Jericho.

A guided tour explaining the mosaic's symbols

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Naaran Synagogue

The synagogue is from the Byzantine period (more or less contemporary to the Shalom al Israel synagogue), and situated in the ancient Jewish village of Naaran, to the north-west of Jericho

In sharp contrast to the Shalom al Israel synagogue, its mosaic is profusely decorated with Hellenistic symbols, as was the current practice at that time. The synagogue is also much larger than the Shalom al Israel synagogue.

A guided tour explaining the mosaic, and contrasting it to that of the Shalom al Israel synagogue

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Tel Jericho

The most prominent place in Jericho is definitely the "Tel" - the place of the Ancient Jericho.

Located there are the walls which our Rabbis taught regarding them, "One who sees the Walls of Jericho that fell must recite the blessing ‘who has made miracles for our fathers in this place.’" The walls are from the Bronze Age, which according to archeology, where remade when they faced Joshua conquering the Land. These walls have been excavated, and it is possible to see them. What a miracle - the entire eastern section of the wall simply disappeared, as our Rabbis taught that the wall was swallowed up in its place. That portion, from the eastern side, is in the direction of where the Children of Israel came after crossing the Jordan River.

The watchtower adjacent to the Well, on eastern side of the city is apparently the city gate. It is conceivable that this was the house of Rahav the harlot, who resided next to the city gate.

Some of the supporting walls are from the time of the Judges, when the Moabites, headed by King Eglon, conquered the City of Palms.

A guided tour of Tel Jericho

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The Hasmonean Palaces

An impressive relic of the latter, and thoroughly corrupt, generations of the Hasmonean kings, who built for themselves luxurious winter palaces on the western side of Jericho.

The palaces were built in six stages by three kings: Yohanan Hyrcanus(the son of Shimon Ben Matisyahu), his son Alexander Yanai, and finally King Herod who built three palaces, furnished with all the luxurious depravity inspired by his Roman masters.

This is an important and unique archaeological site, ehich bears witness to the period, but is being choked and compromised by the neighbouring Bedouins.

A guided tour of the archaeological site

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The Priestly Burial Caves

The cemetery bears witness to Jericho being, during the Second Temple period, inhabited by Priests (Cohens) who served in the Temple of Jerusalem.

The cemetery is in the form of caves on the side of the mountain range which forms the western border of Jericho. This is the biggest cemetery of Cohens in the world.

The site has been carefully excavated and documented in the past, but the surrounding Bedouins are forever encroaching on the site, levelling the ground for building, and destroying the tombs.

A triple burial cave in the mountainside west of Jericho
A triple burial cave in the mountainside

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The Biblical Gilgal

In the time of Joshua, the first encampment of the Children of Israel after crossing the Jordan River was "on the eastern edge of Jericho" The place was called "Gilgal" because the entire Jewish People circumcised themselves. "Today I revealed (Goloti) the shame of Egypt from amongst you." (Joshua 5:9) In this place the Tabernacle was erected and stood there 14 years. The sanctity of the place was reserved for later generations. Here, King Saul was anointed, and in sharp contrast, other places of idoatrous worship were set up here during the kingdom.

Here, twelve stones were taken by the Kohanim when they crossed the Jordan River. These twelve stones are an eternal sign that the Children of Israel crossed the Jordan River on dry land.

Today, the "Jaljala" ruins is located three kilometers east of the city's centre, on the ancient path from the "Hogla" crossing to Tel Jericho. Several ruins remain there, which have not yet been excavated. It is possible that these ruins are the place of the Tabernacle, the pile of foreskins, the twelve stones, and the city itself. Nearby, there are ruins that have been excavated and found to be from the Byzantine Period.

Short part of a guided tour of the Biblical Gilgal

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The Jordan Crossing

One of the great events in Joshua’s conquest of the Land was the miracle on the Jordan River crossing, when the Jordan River dried up ten kilometers north of Jericho, and the Children of Israel crossed on dry land. (Joshua 3:16).

Our Rabbis established that one who sees the Jordan River Crossing should recite the blessing "Who has performed miracles for our Fathers in this place." Today, this crossing is called the "Hogla" Crossing near Jericho. From here they traveled to Jericho via Gilgal.

According to the Biblical account, twelve stones were taken from the East Bank of the Crossing adjacent to the water to Gilgal (Joshua 4:2). These stones are there to this day to remind us of the miracle.

Celebrating the 10th of Nissan, the day Israel crossed the Jordan

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Ancient Beit Hogla

The biblical town of Beit Hogla is mentioned in the Book of Joshua, as being near the northern tip of the Dead Sea, on the frontier between Judah’s portion Binyamin’s portion: (Joshua 15:6) and (Joshua 18:19).

It is mentioned again as one of the towns of Binyamin, together with Jericho and Beit El (Joshua 18:21).

Remains of Ancient Beit Hogla east of Jericho
Remains of Ancient Beit Hogla

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Friday Prayer & Tour of Jericho

The entrance to the Shalom al Israel Synagogue in Jericho
The entrance to the Shalom al Israel Synagogue
  • Approx. once every 3 weeks, usually on a Friday, we pray Shaharith in Jericho, and then tour some of Jericho's important sites.
  • We pray Shaharith at the ancient Shalom al Israel Synagogue, with its unique mosaic full of Jewish symbolism.
  • We then tour Tel Jericho (where the walls were brought down by the trumpets and the shofars of the Children of Israel), the Elisha Spring (where the Prophet Elisha sweetened the waters of Jericho), and the ancient Naaran Synagogue on the north tip of Jericho (with its Hellenistic classic mosaic, which stands in in contrast to that of Shalom al Israel).
  • Back in Jerusalem at approx. 12:30.
  • Security in Jericho is assured by the Israel Defence Forces.

Help us re-establish the presence of the Jewish People in the holy city of Jericho!

The key to the Land of Israel!


Tourguides' Course - Part 2 (in Hebrew)

Field-lecture by Rav Dr Hagi Ben-Artzi about the Biblical Gilgal east of Jericho
Field-lecture about the Biblical Gilgal in last winter's course

As a sequel to last winter's very successful Tourguides' Course, we are starting a new course for tourguides about Jericho . The exact timetable is still to be determined.

The course is spread over four weekly sessions, and includes some field trips in the area.

Meeting Point

  • For all sessions of the course, meet at the Jericho Visitor Centre in Beit Hogla.
  • All field-trips start and end at the Visitor Centre.

Programme

The exact structure of the course and its timetable are yet to be determined.

Session 1

  • 09:00-12:00 Rav Dr. Hagi Ben Artzi. Subject: The Plains of Moab and the Plains of Jericho, the cradle of the history of Israel. Includes a visual survey of the area from the Gilgal Observation Platform.
  • 12:00-13:00 Lunch.
  • 13:00-14:30 Erna Covos. Subject: The Hasmonean Palaces in Jericho.
  • 15:00-16:30 Rav Elhanan Bin Nun. Subject: Jericho according to our Sages.

Session 2

  • 09:00 Professor Amos Frumkin. Subject: Grottos in Jericho. Lecture and audiovisual presentation.

Session 3

  • 09:00 Rav Yossi Peli. Subject: The secrets of Jericho in Hassidut.

Session 4

  • 08:00 Nissim Argaman. Subject: The Dok Fortress and the Karantal. Meet at the Visitor Centre. Includes a challenging trek.

Info & Registration

  • Send a text message / WhatsApp to Yoni at 052-3527313, Sigalit at 050-6470015 (Hebrew only) or Erna at 052-8699300.
  • Cost: 100 NIS per lesson; 400 NIS for the whole course.