Peki’in Village

Peki’in Village

A Walking Tour of Peki’in (Buqei'a)

Peki’in is a colourful village, nestling in the center of a beautiful valley. The village boasts a generations-old tradition of co-existence between Druse and Muslims, Christians and Jews.

How to get there:

From the Hosen intersection by the Monfort Lake, turn left onto Route 864 and soon you’ll reach the outskirts of Peki’in. Cross the village and close to the exit, you’ll see a sign to the Cave of Rashbi (Rabbi Shimon Bar Yohai). Park in the nearby lay-by. This is where the hike begins. It’s advisable to leave a second car at the end of the route.

Note: if you only have one car, you can leave it at the beginning of the route and just retrace your steps once you’ve finished (it isn’t too far).

Hiking route:

From the parking spot, take a look over the village before actually descending into its streets and alleyways. The houses blend naturally into the slopes of the valley. The flat roofs serve a number of purposes: This is where tobacco and spices and herbs are dried, where mattresses are laid on hot summer nights for a comfortable sleep, and where the villagers sit during the summer, enjoying a cup of coffee and the shade and fruits of a tangled vine.

When a son gets married and starts a family, another storey is added and the roof gets higher. If you look carefully, you can also see the roof of the synagogue, on which a menorah is clearly visible. Follow the path downhill about 30 metres to the Cave of Rashbi. This is where Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai fled to with his son Yossi to hide from the Romans, who sought to kill him. A carob tree adorns the entrance of the cave. Rashbi and his son stayed in the cave for thirteen years, until the danger passed and they could safely leave it. According to tradition, it was here that Rashbi wrote the Zohar, a Jewish mystical commentary on the Bible. Interestingly, the non-Jewish residents of Peki’in also consider this site to be holy.

The path down the slope continues to the village spring, known as Ein al-Balad. In the past, the spring’s pure water was the villagers’ sole source of drinking water, but nowadays it is used solely for irrigation. The spring lies at the center of village life. It’s interesting to sit here for a while in the shade of a densely foliaged tree, watching the Druse men and women in traditional dress as they pass by. The men’s traditional dress signifies their status vis-à-vis religious studies. Many villages in the Western Galilee region are home to a mixed population of Christians, Muslims and Druse. Although their way of life appears less modern than that found in Jewish towns and villages, villagers here are educated and make a living working in respectable professions, just like their Jewish counterparts in the Galilee.

Now continue to the synagogue. The key is kept by Margalit Zinati, whose home borders the synagogue to the south. The synagogue was built in 1873 on the foundations of an ancient synagogue from the Mishnaic and Talmudic periods. Its walls contain stones embossed with Jewish symbols, probably taken from the original synagogue. Nowadays, prayer services are held in the synagogue, but not on a regular basis.

Continue southwards to the olive press. This place may perhaps provide an answer to the question of how one Jewish family lives in a mixed village such as this. Over the generations, the Zinati family has developed a way of life almost identical to that of the rest of the villagers. Only their religious leaders can distinguish between them, and each community has its own house of prayer.

The walking tour finishes on the main road, where you left the car.

From here you can drive to the location that according to tradition, is the grave of Rabbi Hoshaya of Tira. Ancient oak trees surround the grave. Many tales have been woven about Rabbi Hoshaya of Tira: for example, that he protected the inhabitants of Peki’in against raiders, as does his grave to this very day.

Note: You may wish to visit the ancient synagogue of Peki’in, so it’s advisable to take head covering and modest clothing.

To pre-arrange a visit, phone Savta Jamila, Kfar Peki’in.

More attractions in Peki’in:

Natural phenomena in the center of Peqi’in, a Druse village, old Peki’in.

At Savta Jamila’s “Wonder Soaps”, you can buy soap manufactured according to formulas passed down through the generations, to which many ascribe healing powers.

For enquiries and orders: tel: 059-974435, mobile: 052-2796172.

Al Zeitun Olive Press:

A modern olive press, located in the western part of Peki’in, offers guided tours giving an overview of olive oil production, ancient and modern.

You can buy superior quality olive oil there at a reduced price, as well as cosmetic products containing olive oil. Tel: 04-9571548.

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