Tag Archives: Baram

Kfar Bir’im

BaramIn the 19th century Kfar Bir’im (ancient Bar’am) was occupied and settled by Maronite Christians.  During Israel’s war of Independence (known as “the catastrophe” to the Arabs) the inhabitants were forced out of their village by the Israeli military forces with the promise that they could return after the fighting ceased.  The displaced inhabitants settled in nearby Gush Halav and other villages.

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View of the occasionally used Maronite Christian Church in Kfar Bir’im
that is located to the south of the synagogue at Baram.
Click on Image to Enlarge

The request/demand to return by these Arab Christians was tied up in the Israeli court system for years, but ultimately the court ruled against allowing them to return.  Today the site is a National Park and boasts the best preserved ancient synagogue in the country.

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Baram — The Synagogue

BaramAlmost all travelers to Israel will visit the justly famous synagogue at Capernaum on the north shore of the Sea of Galilee—and some will even visit the one at nearby Chorazin.  However, the best preserved of the “Galilean Type” synagogues is the one located at the not-too-frequently visited site of Baram.  It is located in Upper Galilee, about 1.2 mi. [2 km.] south of the Israeli Lebanese border.

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View looking northeast at the southern façade of the synagogue at Baram
This southern wall is still intact—in contrast to the rebuilt walls of the synagogues at Capernaum and Chroazin
Click on Image to Enlarge

Note the light color of the building.  The darker grey upper portion was exposed to the elements over the years while the lighter lower portion was buried—until excavated.

There were eight columns that supported the roof of the porch—the one on the right (east) side is still standing!  The three main doors faced south—towards Jerusalem.  Stylistically, this synagogue is very similar to the more well–known ones at Capernaum and Chorazin.

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View looking southeast at the interior of the synagogue
Click on Image to Enlarge

Like the synagogues at Capernaum and Chorazin, the one at Baram has a central nave, two side aisles, and a back aisle.  The three main doors faced south—towards Jerusalem.   The floor of this synagogue was paved with limestone slabs (not mosaics).  There are indications that there were benches along the two side walls.

The dating of these “Galilean” synagogues is much debated with dates ranging from the third century A.D. (unlikely) to the six century (more probable).

To view additional images of the Baram Synagogue Click Here.

On Monday I will comment on the “modern” history of Baram—Kfar Bir’im.