The Synagogue at Gamla


The synagogue of Gamla is one of the earliest known in Israel (early 1st century A.D.). It was built in the typical "Galilean" style with three rows of columns, tiers of three-stepped side benches (there used to be four originally), heart-shaped corner pillars and an alcove for Torah scrolls in the northwest corner. The stumps of columns once supported a wooden roof.

A mikveh (ritual bath) was found near the synagogue. The building is a rectangle that is orientated towards Jerusalem.A lintel with the decoration of a rosette typifies a symbol from Jewish art.

The city of Gamla is sometimes referred to as the "Masada of the North". It is famous for its strong defense against the Romans in the Jewish Revolt in 66 A.D.  The site is bordered on all sides by deep wadis of the Golan Heights and is approachable by only one footpath from the northeast.  The earliest settlement was in the Early Bronze Age and the site was reinhabited by returning exiles from Babylon.  Herod the Great settled Jews here to populate his border cities.

Gamla hill from a distance


Gamla hill slope with synagogue

The synagogue is in the eastern part of the city. Today it has been restored and bar mitzvahs are popularly held here.

Ancient Synagogues

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