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Galilee is perhaps the finest laboratory in the world to study the various
components of complete Jewish national life - perhaps even better than
Jerusalem! For while Jerusalem has been the spiritual and political
capital of Israel since the time of David, inspiring Jews in Eretz Yisrael
and throughout the world, life in Jerusalem never typified the life of
Jews in their land. In fact, there were times when Jews were not allowed
in Jerusalem and the Galilee became the focal point and living center of
Jewish life in Eretz Yisrael. Of all the regions in the country, the
Galilee had the most continuous presence of Jewish day-to-day life
throughout the centuries.
The Galilee is the northern area of Israel. lts borders are clear:
The Acco-Tsfat road divides the Galilee in two:
The upper Galilee is the area north of the road, through the valley of Beit Hakerem the lower Galilee runs south of the road to the Jezreel valley, and includes the basin of Lake Kinneret.
The Galilee is a hard, difficult area. Today it looks fertile but the appearance is deceptive. The area is full of mountains and valleys, stubborn hard earth, and riverbeds that have been blocked for long periods of time, causing waters to fan out into stagnant swamps. these natural factors have demanded a lot from the people who have lived in the Galilee and worked its land. the people have had to be as stubborn as the land itself, but those who have worked the land with care and determination have been rewarded.
In addition to supporting Jewish life over the ages, the Galilee hosted millions of foreign visitors during the course of history. During the past 3,000 years, many of the great empires of the world exercised control over the land of Israel. A close examination of the Galilee is therefore an exploration of the ways Jews learned from other cultures, accommodated them - and vice versa! The ebb and flow of foreign influence on Jewish life is a basic theme in the story of the Galilee. In the Galilee we can see how the Jews resisted the incursions of cultures and empires - often unsuccessfully and how the Galilee has responded to the social, cultural, economic, and military demands of Jewish national life.
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