Waves SafedTiberias Sharon

  • Issue: February 1999
  • Designers: N. & M. Eshel
  • Stamp Size: 40 mm x 25.7 mm
  • Plate nos.: 355, 356
  • Sheets of 15 stamps, Tabs: 5
  • Printers: Government Printers
  • Method of printing: Offset

Two thousand years passed between the destruction of the Second Temple and the dispersion of the nation to the Diaspora, and the revival of the Jewish nation in its country - years in which it was thought that there was no Jewish presence in the land. The fact that Jewish creativity in the land never ceased for a moment (the Jerusalem Talmud, the Tiberias vowel theory, etc.) had been forgotten. Only since the return of the nation to its land, with the uncovering of many remains of its past together with the study of relevant documents has light been shed on the continuity of Jewish presence in the land.

Descriptions by Jewish, Christian and Moslem pilgrims, in documents found at various locations in Israel and around the world and the archeological discoveries at many sites - all testify to the presence, often sparse due to harsh times, but always substantial, of Jews in their land.

The suffering of the Jews in the Land of Israel, whether under Christian or Moslem rule, and the tenacious grip of the Jews to their land are not mentioned even by the great historians such as Graetz and Dubnov, and for some reason have escaped the notice of those renewing the Jewish presence in Israel.

Four cities in the Land of Israel have, since the late Middle Ages, been crowned "Holy City". These cities are: Jerusalem, Hebron, Zefat and Tiberias. These cities have been given special attention by Jewish and Christian pilgrims who described the cities and their sites, as well as the Jewish population living there at the time. These cities grew largely during the Ottoman Period. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain at the end of the 15th century and the restrictions imposed on Jews in other locations in Europe all resulted in Jews emigrating to Israel.

Newcomers were attracted to Zefat, a center for the Jews of the Galilee as well as a safe city because of the Ottoman rulers residing there.

Development of the Kabbalah and Messianic expectations also strengthened the community in Zefat, starting from the 16th century.The community in Tiberias developed due to renewed settlement encouraged by Dona Gracia, a Jewish-Portuguese woman who attained fame in the Sultan's court, and purchased the city of the ancient tombs in the city, although the number of Jewish inhabitants remained small. The holiness of Jerusalem was maintained, and the Jewish presence in the city was constant from the time of the expulsion of the Crusaders, despite persecution by the authorities.

In each of the four cities there was a site that symbolized the city: the Western Wall in Jerusalem; the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron; the grave of Rabbi Meir Baal Haness in Tiberias; and the grave of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai near Zefat.

Dr. Dan Bahat

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Continuity of jewish life in Eretz Israel (II)