Pekiin is a quaint village in the Upper Galilee region of Israel with winding cobbled lanes, historic stone homes and picturesque plants and flowers in the many gardens. The historic village is perched on a hill top at an elevation of 600 meters above sea level which affords it gorgeous views and has a fascinating history and current population as a mixed village of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and Druze.
The beautiful stone streets of Pekiin in northern Israel. Image Max Nathans via Flickr
Jews inhabited the village during the Second Temple Period and even when in 70CE most Jews were exiled from Israel the Jews of Pekiin remained. Arabs joined the Jewish residents in the 11th century followed by Christians in the 12th century. In the 18th century the Druze people (read more about the Druze hospitality experience in Israel) arrived and they have remained the strongest element of the Pekiin community. Although the different cultures lived in harmony in Pekiin for many years today there is only one remaining Jew in the village who cares for the synagogue. The sense of cultural harmony remains in Pekiin as Arabs, Druze and Christians live side by side. In the nearby Pekiin HaHadasha (New Pekiin) you’ll find a larger Jewish community.
What to see and do in Pekiin
Cave of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai – Also known by the acronym Rashbi, this 2nd century Jewish sage is believed to have fled to this cave with his son following the failure of the Bar Kochva Revolt. While living here for 12 years Rashbi wrote The Zohar, the Jewish mystic Kabbalah school of thought’s most holy book. The Rabbi and his 13 year old son are said to have survived on fruit from a Carob tree growing at the cave entrance and from the natural spring which passes by.
A Druze man in Pekiin. Image courtesy Israel Ministry of Tourism
Ancient Synagogue – This place of worship is built on the remains of a Roman Era synagogue and the present structure was built in 1873. Built into the construction are said to be 2 stones from the Jewish Temple. Tours of the synagogue are by prior arrangement only.
Zinati Family Home – This Jewish home belonged to the last remaining Jewish resident of the village, Margalit Zinati who remained to care for the synagogue. In the house you can see a show which illustrates the way of life in the village many years ago and how the family lived in this house together with their domestic animals. For show details call: 050-7713357.
Pekiin Spring – Thanks to the area’s plentiful natural springs the surrounding countryside is fertile agricultural land producing lush fruits and vegetables. The hill side is covered with vineyards, orchards and fields. The spring stands at the center of the village in Spring Square and the nearby Strawberry tree features on Israel’s 100 shekel note.
Greek Orthodox Church – This is one of the largest churches of its kind in the country and it was constructed in 1894. You can see inside the church on Sundays and Christian holy days.
Soap Factory – The Druze owners of this cottage industry produce soap made from olive oil and medicinal herbs. The founder Grandma Jamilla has become a local legend and her products are even marketed abroad. For more information call 04-9974435.
Pekiin is located in the Upper Galilee 31km from Acre, 7km from Mitzpe Hod and is accessed from the Acre-Safed Route 85 via Rama.