Peki’in is a delightful village, home to Muslims, Christians, Druze and one Jewish family.
The magic of Peki’in, a picturesque village in the Galilee, is the story of Arab Muslims, Christians, Druze and one Jewish family who have been living together in a single village. The Jewish family members are the descendents of a family which has lived in Peki’in since the Second Temple period when the village was Jewish, one of many Jewish villages scattered around the Galilee. In the very recent past, this family has been joined by ten additional Jewish families.
Arab settlement in Peki’in began in the eleventh century. In the twelfth century, the Muslim inhabitants were joined by Christians who had participated in the Crusades and in the eighteenth century, Druze also settled in the village.
The heart of the village is a maze of lovely narrow lanes of stone, all leading to the village spring which was once the center of village life. On the terraces of the houses there are vine covered arbors and hedges of bougainvillea and geranium which color the lanes in hues of red and purple. At the center of the village stands a synagogue which was built in 1873, and embedded in its walls are two stones which, according to local tradition, were taken from the temple in Jerusalem. The synagogue is generally locked but it can be visited by appointment.
Located in the south of the village is the “Cave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai”. According to Jewish tradition, Bar Yochai and his son Eleazar hid here from the Romans. At the mouth of the cave, a carob tree grows, and next to it flows a stream. The father and son were nourished by these for twelve years according to a later tradition. Bar Yochai is said to have composed the Book of Zohar, the fundamental text of the Kabala, the source of mystical Judaism. There is also a Greek Orthodox church at the site, the second largest in Israel. The church was built in 1894 over the remains of a more ancient church and it is open on Sundays and on Christian holidays. In Peki’in there are guest rooms, restaurants with traditional Druze food, colorful shops, a small factory which makes soaps from olive oil and an abundance of warm and welcoming people.