Most families who choose to celebrate their son or daughter’s Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony in Israel choose to do it by the Western Wall in Jerusalem or at one of the many synagogues in Israel.
But those are far from being the only options this fabulous country has to offer for a memorable event. In fact, some of the other options are arguably more breathtaking and will give your son or daughter a unique experience.
Here are a few religiously-significant and history-packed locations to choose from where you can enjoy a more intimate, personal, and spiritually satisfying celebration for your child’s bar mitzvah in Israel!
IMPRESSIVE – Bar’am’s Ancient Synagogue
Bar’am is the site of an ancient Jewish village located in upper Galilee. On the site, you’ll find a well-preserved and restored ancient synagogue dated between the 4th and 5th century.
These remains are evidence of the prosperous Jewish community that lived in the area at that time. The synagogue itself is made of basalt stone and is comprised of several unusual architectural features.
As you walk through the three entrances of the front facade (all facing Jerusalem) and continue walking deep into the remains, you’ll witness those unique features for yourself.
The site, and the forest close by, present a beautiful and unique location for a Bar Mitzvah tour celebration, adding the element of nature to a mind blowing historical and spiritual experience. This is undoubtedly one of the best sites for a bar mitzvah in Israel.
REMOTE – The Ancient Synagogue at Umm El Kanatir (Mother of Arches)
Are you looking for a place to celebrate a bar mitzvah in Israel that is off the beaten track? This is one of the most magnificent ancient synagogues and is found in the Golan Heights.
It was once part of a Talmudic era Jewish village, dating between the 6th and 8th centuries. Jewish symbols from that period decorate the old stones scattered throughout the site.
Two hundred meters from the synagogue, you’ll find a natural spring flowing from the cliff into three basins that were once topped by monumental basalt arches. One of these enchanting arches is still standing to this day.
The destructive earthquake of 749 AD ruined most of the synagogue’s structure but, since 2012, the site has been undergoing meticulous reconstruction work facilitated by high-tech machinery used to restore the structure in as accurate a way as possible.
The ancient building mixed with the beautiful nature make this an ideal location for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, also adding some mystery and unexpected beauty to the experience.
HEROIC PAST – Gamla’s Ancient Synagogue
Not only does Gamla provide the remains of an ancient city, fascinating archaeological findings, and amazing landscapes, it also has a bird watching viewpoint from which you can spot magnificent vultures and a range of other birds of prey.
Gamla was destroyed during the Roman siege of the Great Revolt in the 1st century BCE and is a symbol of Jewish heroism. The synagogue is assumed to have been built during the time of King Herod the Great.
A Bar/Bat Mitzvah celebration at this site will, without a doubt, be an inspirational and exciting experience, with an “audience” you won’t find anywhere else.
ARTISTIC – The Ancient Synagogue at Tzipori
Tzipori is a modern day village as well as a large archaeological site located in the Central Galilee.
Discoveries have shown that the Jews settled here from the Hasmonean period until the 5th century – around the time the synagogue was built. Thanks to the city’s special status as the region’s ‘City of Peace’, large parts of the beautiful and rare mosaic floor of the synagogue have been preserved to this day.
The beautifully-crafted mosaics depict scenes from the Bible and Jewish motifs such as the angels visiting Sarah, the binding of Isaac, and a large zodiac displaying the Hebrew names of the months. One of the more famous ones is the mosaic known as “the Mona Lisa of the Galilee”.
Hold your special ceremony here and imagine yourself standing in the center of the most important city in the Second Temple Period Galilee. This site represents the essence of the ability of Jews to successfully retain the Judaism while living in general society – much like Jews in the diaspora do today!
What a perfect place for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony!
MYSTIFYING – The Abuhav Synagogue in Safed
Safed is known to be the center of the Kabbalah. Entering the city, you’ll feel the special atmosphere of spiritualism, mysticism, religion, and antiquity that can be found around every corner.
The Abuhav Synagogue, located in the center of Safed, dates back to the 16th-century and is named after the 15th-century Spanish rabbi and kabbalist, Isaac Abuhav.
The domed roof of the structure is decorated with images displaying the musical instruments used in the Temple, the emblems of the 12 tribes, and four symbolic crowns. Until today, a Torah scroll, believed to have been written by Rabbi Abuhav, is kept in one of the 3 torah arks of the synagogue.
With mystery abound, it’s perfect for the imagination and excitement of a teenager celebrating the next chapter of his or her life.
JOIN THE HISTORY – The Ancient Synagogue in Ein Gedi
Located in the Judean Desert, the Ancient Synagogue in Ein Gedi has been a landmark since the third century AD. Though destroyed three times, the synagogue still stands. Several artifacts were found during archaeological excavations, including several mosaics, writings, and even lineage from Adam all the way to Yefet.
The settlers of ancient Ein Gedi used to make a living by selling the mysterious persimmon oil. It is even written in the artifacts found in the synagogue that anyone who reveals the secret to how it is made shall be severely punished! Throughout the years, even through all of the battles and destruction, the Judean Desert and Ein Gedi remained a point of passage for every nomad and man in the area.
Imagine reading from the Torah in a synagogue with such rich history, and being part the victory and strength of the beautiful place, in the middle of one of the most special deserts in the world! The perfect sentiment for a Bar/Bat Mitzvah.
THE ANCIENT WITH A NEW TWIST – The Synagogue on Masada
Though most people have heard of holding a Bar/Bat Mitzvah ceremony on top of Masada, few take the time to truly appreciate the gravity of the place.
Aside from the beautiful view of the desert and the Dead Sea, Masada has a rich history of Jews who used the Great King Herod’s fortress, built at the edge of the mountain cliff,to protect themselves from the Romans. Just walking up the path to the top of Masada, and seeing the excavations, you feel as though you are part of the same pride of those people who died for honor.
Put a twist on the Masada Bar/Bat Mitzvah, and study the story before hand. Let the story resonate with you, and even find one of the many connections to the Torah portion at hand. Put a new twist on your Bar/Bat Mitzvah in a very old place!
Plan with Puzzle Israel for an Offbeat Bar Mitzvah in Israel
Combine one of these sites with a fabulous private lunch out in the open and a fun water hike or outdoor adventure activity – and you have a truly special experience for your son or daughter! At the very least, consider going with something that’s more memorable than it is probable, a unique experience that will have his or her friends jealous of the adventure.