During the sixth century, a small but wealthy Jewish village in Golan Heights constructed a large synagogue. The synagogue stood for three centuries before a devastating earthquake in 749 destroyed the entire village. The village and its impressive synagogue have lain in ruins ever since.
That is, until 2003 when engineer Yehoshua Dray and archeologist Chaim Ben-David began a project with an ambitious goal of reconstructing the ancient synagogue at Ein Keshatot (also known as Umm el-Qanatir). Digital scans were taken of each stone block, and then a computer program was used to virtually reconstruct the synagogue. In 2010, the physical reconstruction finally began. Using the computer-generated rendering, a large crane was used to place each stone into its correct position. In 2016, the project was finally completed, and in 2018, the site was opened to the public.
Elaborate carvings of menorahs and the Four Species can still be seen on the synagogue’s walls and columns. Some of these carvings decorate a stone ark, that miraculously survived the 749 earthquake.
At the other end of the village, two large arches overlook a spring and pool of water. This was the industrial area of town where linen would have been manufactured. While no linen is made here today, the spring still flows, and the arches still stand over a pool of water that would’ve been used to clean flax thousands of years ago. These arches are also how the village got its name—Ein Keshatot translates to “Spring of Arches.”
The site is on the edge of a cliff overlooking Nahal Samach, a deep gorge, and provides stunning views of the valley stretching towards the Sea of Galilee.
Know Before You Go
The site is small and takes only an hour to visit. The visitors’ center has a small display of archeological finds from the village and screens a documentary (Hebrew with English subtitles) about the reconstruction of the synagogue. There are still active archeological digs at Ein Keshatot. Occasionally, there are opportunities for visitors to take part in the digs.
For opening hours and entrance fees, check the official website.