Margalit Zinati of Pekiʽin with the newly discovered ancient stone. (Ritvo, courtesyBeit Zinati) (Ritvo, courtesy Beit Zinati)
Margalit Zinati of Pekiʽin village, and the ancient stone

The Land of Israel constantly reveals hidden treasures, testifying to its rich history and the Jewish People’s deep and longlasting ties to the land. This recent discovery has a 2,000 year-old story.

An 1,800 year old limestone town square dating back to the Roman period, including columns engraved with two Hebrew inscriptions, was recently discovered during the course of restoration and conservation work carried out in an ancient synagogue and neighboring Beit Zinati visitor center in Peki’in, in the Western Galilee.

The stone was found upside down in the building’s courtyard. A preliminary analysis of the engraving suggests that these are dedicatory inscriptions honoring donors to the synagogue.

“The Talmudic and Midrashic sources tell of the Galilean sages that lived in Peki’in. I believe that these inscriptions will add an important tier to our knowledge about the Jewish town in the village of Peki’in during the Roman and Byzantine periods,” said Yoav Lerer, the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) inspector in the Western Galilee.

The new visitor center currently under construction will tell the 2,000-year-old history of the Jews in the village as well as the unique story of the Zinati family – the village’s oldest Jewish family. Up to this day Margalit Zinati, the last member of the Jewish Zinati family to “keep the flame alive”, resides in the house next door to the synagogue.

The Jewish community of Peki’in has maintained a presence there since the Second Temple period, unlike the vast majority of Jews who were driven into the Diaspora at some point in the last two millennia. The only interruption in the continued Jewish presence was during the 1936–1939 Arab riots, after which most Jews in Peki’in did not return to the village. The town is currently inhabited mostly by Druze.

“Peki’in is one of the most significant sites in the Galilee and is a place where there has always been a Jewish presence. It is a great honor for me that during my tenure in office, such an important discovery has been made that tells this 2,000 year old story of the Land of Israel,” said Ze’ev Elkin, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage.

“This is a historical discovery of unparalleled importance,” stated Uriel Rosenboym, director of Beit Zinati. “There was an ancient synagogue here, and the synagogue was built in its current form in recent centuries. We are pleased to open the new museum with a historic message about this ancient community.”

By: United with Israel Staff

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