top of page

Picturesque Peki’in

Peki’in is a picturesque mainly Druze village not far from Karmiel which is unique in that Jews have lived here almost uninterrupted since the destruction of the Second Temple. There is one remaining Jewish resident, Margolit Zinati, and her synagogue is open to visitors. The lower level of her home functions as a visitor center, and there are movies and displays that demonstrate the history of Jewish life in Peki’in throughout the centuries. A short walk from the synagogue is the cave in which Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai allegedly hid for 13 years. A wonderful one-way hike with incredible views is from the nearby Jewish village of Harashim to Peki’in. A short drive from Peki’in is the interesting Rocks Park.



Directions and parking: To reach the center of Peki’in and the area of Jewish interest, enter the restaurant “ מטבח השביל” into Waze and click on “מטבח השביל Peki’in, Israel.” There is parking close to this restaurant. Follow the sign to the nearby synagogue.

Admission: The synagogue is open 10.30 am to 4.30 pm Sunday to Thursday and until 1.00 pm on Fridays. Call beforehand (04-999 7197) to be sure they are open. The e-mail address is

Public transport: Peki’in is serviced frequently by a number of bus lines. Enter “Peki’in” into Moovit.

Peki'in synagogue.jpeg

Interior of the synagogue at Peki’in, which was built in 1873 on the ruins of a synagogue from the Roman period.

     Do you find my website interesting and helpful?

Then you are sure to love my two new books "In and Around Jerusalem for Everyone - The Best Walks, Hikes and Outdoor Pools" and "The Struggle for Utopia - A History of Jewish, Christian and Islamic Messianism". Both books are available on Amazon and in Jerusalem bookstores. Click on each of the titles for information, reviews and purchase information.

Keeping the lights on in Peki'in 


Would the last Jew to leave Peki’in please turn out the light? The Zinati family was determined this would not happen.


Jews have lived in Peki'in almost continuously from at least Second Temple times until the present day. The first Zinatis may well have been priests who came here in 70 CE with other Jews after the destruction of the Second Temple.


 In about 1938 the Jews of Peki’in were forced to leave the village because of Arab riots and none returned except for one family, the Zinati family, who came back a few years later. They were determined to preserve a Jewish presence in the village, even though their father had been almost killed in the riots. Ironically, perhaps, the Jewish Agency/Jewish National Fund encouraged the Jews of Peki’in not to return, since they considered it too dangerous. Rather, they assisted them in selling their land and this money was used to establish a new Jewish settlement, Peki’in HaHadasha, some miles from the village.


The parents of this one remaining family sent their children to a boarding school in Jerusalem. The son subsequently married and settled elsewhere, but Margolit returned to her parents in the village. She looked after her parents in their old age and decided to remain here to preserve a Jewish presence. This meant remaining single, since it was unlikely any husband would agree to live here.


Margolit Zinati is the custodian of Peki’in’s synagogue and her home is close by. The Roman-era synagogue was destroyed by an earthquake in 1837, but was rebuilt in 1873 with the financial assistance of a Jew from Beirut. Within the walls of the restored synagogue are two engraved stones that are probably from the original synagogue and which are believed to have been taken from Jerusalem when the Jewish settlers came here after the destruction of the Temple.


Within the original synagogue was the study hall (beit midrash) of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananya, the primary teacher of Rabbi Akiva, during the 1st and 2nd centuries CE. He was a leading tanna (a sage whose views are recorded in the Mishna) in the period after the destruction of the Temple.


Over the last 2,000 years, Jewish families in Peki'in worked in agriculture and blended into the life of the town with respect to their language and dress. These Jews are known as mista’arvim, meaning those who “disguise themselves as Arabs” (see the essay “The Jews of the Lower Galilee and Shfr’am" in the webpage on Shfr'am). Arabs joined the Jews of Peki’in in the 11th century, Christian Arabs in the 12th century during the Crusader period, and Druze in the 18th century. The Druze remain the largest element in Peki’in.


A visitor to the village in 1875 described the village as having about 600 people, including a few Jewish families. “. . . .  thanks to the two springs which issue from the hillside, they cultivate on the slopes and almost to the bottom of the valley delicious gardens, watered by numerous streams. Here grow, on different terraces, kept up by great walls, probably ancient, fruit trees of all kinds, such as citrons, oranges, pomegranates, figs, quinces and mulberries. The vine flourishes marvelously, as is shown by the enormous trunks.”


In acknowledgment of her keeping the lights on, Margolit has been honored in award ceremonies. She also lit the torch for Israel’s 70th Independence Day celebration.  

 (For an inspiring article about Margolit and her family click here).

Zanati family.jpeg

Picture of Margolit's family


Margalit speaks at a recent meeting



  • Go first to the visitor center, which is on the lower level of Margolit‘s home (she lives upstairs). There is an admission charge for a guided tour. A 14-minute movie about the Peki’in Jewish community can be viewed in English. Also, two short movies with English subtitles with stories about important aspects of the Jewish community. There is also a collection of farm implements from the beginning of 20th century.


  • You will be taken to the synagogue as part of the tour. Note the two engraved stones within the wall of the synagogue. According to tradition they were brought from Jerusalem when Jewish settlers came here after its destruction.

  • From the synagogue walk to the “Cave of Rashbi.” Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Rashbi) is alleged to have hidden here with his son Rabbi Eleazar for 13 years during the Hadrianic persecutions. This is also where he studied Jewish mysticism and composed the Zohar. The two fugitives from the Romans sustained themselves with spring water and the fruit of a carob tree. They remained in this cave until their death sentence was revoked after the death of Hadrian. (See also the webpage on Meron and the essay on Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai for a summary of Rashbi's life). The cave seems small, but this is because it was partially closed off by an earthquake




The Harashim-Peki'in Trail 


This is a wonderful downhill one-way trail from the Jewish settlement of Harashim to Peki’in that winds between olive groves and provides exceptional views of the surrounding hills and nearby villages and towns.


  • Because the trail is one-way, you will need to figure out where to park your car. It is suggested that you park in Peki’in at the very bottom of the trail, on Al-Mayadeen St. at its intersection with Ajrama St. However, neither of these streets is on Waze or Google Maps. Therefore, order a local taxi and tell the driver where you wish to park. After this, he can drive you to Harashim (“Harashim” is on Waze). Do not rely on the taxi driver being familiar with the trail. Close to the entrance to Harashim is a yellow sign on your right with the word פקיעין. You can be let off here and a path will take you around this small settlement and onto the downhill black-marked part of the trail.


  • The first part of the trail involves easy climbing down on rocks, and this then leads to a relaxing countryside lane. After about ¾ hour there is a turning on the right to a tel. There are currently no findings to be seen on the tel. The views are wonderful from wherever you are, and it is questionable whether it is worth the effort to go up it. 


Bronze Age pottery was found on the tel and the remnant of an iron melting furnace (hence the name Harashim, which means smiths). There is a nearby burial cave from the Chalcolithic era.



Rocks Park in Kisra Sume'a 

Rocks Park is a small, interesting park a short drive from Peki’in and adjoining the Druze village of Kisra-Sume’a that has unusual natural limestone towers and slabs. Directions: Enter “Rocks Park” into Waze and click on ‘Rocks Park, Kisra-Sumei, Israel.” There is single paved path through the length of the park with an entrance/exit at each end. Allow about 15 to 30 minutes to explore. There are signs with explanations about the rock formations in Hebrew. There is also a somewhat rocky but otherwise easy trail from this park to nearby Sne Mountain. There is plenty of shade but no views along the trail because of the vegetation and this path can be easily given a miss. 

Rocks Park.jpeg

Links to the HOME PAGE and best family activities, hikes and historic sites in the GOLAN, EASTERN GALILEE, UPPER GALILEE, LOWER GALILEE, JORDAN VALLEY & LAKE KINNERET, the SHEFELAH, TEL AVIV-YAFFO and surroundings, NORTH of TEL AVIV, and SOUTH of TEL AVIV.

bottom of page