Magnificent Morocco – 26. The Aben Danan synagogue

DSCF8348 1024When walking around some confusing alleyways a small child asked me I wanted to see the synagogue, I guess this was a popular place foreign visitors were looking for.   After being dead set against being canvassed by beggars most of the time, I decided to give this kid a few coins and go and see where this place was.

The Hebrew used here is a bit unusual as I think its transliterated from Arabic.   Ben/בן is son of in Hebrew and Iban/Aben/אבן is son of in Arabic.

Its sad to think once this had some happier times, and at the time I was travelling, this would of been the week of Purim.

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All the artifacts are here as this place has been restored.   This is not used for current religious worship, as there seems to be no practicing Jews to be seen in Fez.

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Wavy tiles and pale blue walls are beautiful and distinctly Moroccan.

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Mikvah bath.   Notice the lift up wooden trapdoor.   Reminds me of a church my parents took me where the baptism tank was hidden under a secret panel in the floor which fascinated me as a child.

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Torah scrolls still there in the ark.   This lady is a local Muslim who lives in the flat next door, it seems the Synagogue is owned by the Moroccan government as a tourist site.   I had to pay 20 Durhams plus a tip for this lady to take my photo.

There’s more information on this places of worship on Wikipedia

Previous 25. Music festival to unite the Middle East and Africa – except Israel

Next 27. The Jewish cemetery of Fez

Megiddo – The end of the world welcomes careful drivers

After traveling this part of northern Israel before in the Jezreel Valley, famous for where the end of the world will happen, I got a chance after I finished working for a few days in nearby Karmiel to actually have a proper visit of this historical site.

I came not to speculate at the very place the book of revelation says the last battle will happen, but to make sense of a particular scripture I have read that I have been trying to make sense of:

Zechariah 12:10-12

10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. 11 On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be as great as the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives

Question; this future prophesied repentance and revival is parallel with a place and/or event in history of the “Hadad Rimmon”, I am curious what this is, and why it is after some searching, no one knows what it is.

My primitive knowledge of Hebrew tells me that Rimmon is a pomegranate, but thats all I know.  By going to the Megiddo historical centre I thought maybe I could shed light on this.

I had to ask the manager of my youth hostel how to get to Megiddo,which advised getting the bus to Tel Aviv.   Megiddo is not mentioned on the bus stop schedules, I had to ask the bus driver to let me off at the right time.    Actually I had to get off at a bus stop at the side of the highway and walk for a mile, along this junction to the visitor centre.

By the main road is a large prison.   There has been some talk of tearing it down and rebuilding elsewhere as more significant archeological discoveries were found not long ago – possibly the oldest Christian church ever found.

The end of the world welcomes careful drivers….

I had my iPod with me and I was in the mood for some 80s rock, so I had this apt track from Def Leppard’s ‘Armageddon it’   its funny that Armageddon which is derived from Ha Megiddo, has become quite common in language as a modern phrase for any big impending war.

Anyway, once at the outside of the visitor centre I just paid 28 shekels to go in.

I found out that Megiddo became an Israelite city sometime between the 10th and 9th centuries BC and functioned as an administrator centre for the fertile Jezreel Valley, many parts were added later.


These drawings on the walls I think are from Canaanite period.   The drawing of a giraffe is quite interesting, didn’t think there was those here in Israel, but then again there were lions in the bible which aren’t there now, there are a small number of wild cats, leopards in Negev but they are very rare.   On the right is a picture of the Pope which someone has scratched on graffiti in Hebrew.

From the top of the site you can see all across the Jezreel valley, the plain of Megiddo, a wide open space with a busy main road that goes to Afula.   There is two petrol stations and a McDonalds along the fields of Megiddo!!

There were mostly people in one big group here, so I was a bit cheeky and stood close to the historian who was speaking, as I think it costs extra to hire him to guide you.

Like a lot of other ancient parts of Israel like Masada, there is a complex underground system built to provide fresh water.   I went down the steps to see the tunnels.

>>> More on Megiddo on the next chapter…..

The Hurva Synagogue

Last week I was in the old city and I went past the famous Hurva Synagogue.

This building was rebuilt and finished in March 2010.   I wanted to go inside, but its only open to the public in the mornings with a groups with a guide.

Following the destruction of this building in the 1948, initial plans for this current synagogue were drawn up in 2000 but the building was not finished until this year in March, about the same week I arrived to do my second season of volunteer work here.   Looking at pictures of the previous synagogue (its been destroyed and rebuilt quite a few times now)  it looks a pretty close copy of the original.

There was a lot worry from possible attacks from Arabs thinking that this a starting point towards building the third temple.   Frequent amounts of history revisionism tries to hide a lot of what has been in this country from the past.  You can click on this photo of a plaque to see this closer.   I think this is a nice icon of the determination of the Jewish people to protect their capital.