Bar’am was an ancient Jewish town during the time of the Mishna. It was a wealthy town, since it had two synagogues. The larger synagogue, dating back to the 2nd or 3rd century, is a beautiful synagogue. Little remains of the smaller synagogue. Remains from the original town can also be seen.
In the 19th century, the city was entirely Christian, and known as Bir’am. A Maronite church was built on the site. In 1837, the synagogue and church were damaged in an earthquake.
In 1949, Kibbutz Bar’am was founded to guard the border with Lebanon.
In the Bar’am National Park, you can see the remains of the original town of Bir’am and the Maronite church, which is still used on Sundays. Little remains of the small synagogue except a lintel which is now in the Louvre in Paris. However, the large synagogue has been excellently restored.
The architecture of the synagogue is typical of synagogues in the Galilee, during the Talmudic period. The building is made of Basalt stone, which is typical of the area. The front of the synagogue has three entrance; the middle entrance has an arched doorway, while the side entrances are square. The name of the builder is inscribed in the building. Columns supported a roof outside of the building, and columns divided the inside as well.
Tip: To reach Bar’am National Park, take route 886 North from Meron. After passing through Tzivon, but before reaching Sasa, turn right on route 899. Follow the signs to Bar’am from this point.
Tip: Bar’am National Park is wheelchair accessible.
Tip: The park is open during the standard hours for national parks.
Tip: There is an entrance fee to the park.
Tip: Nearby is the Baram Forest, with beautiful oak trees. Signs at the forest lead to the graves of Queen Esther and Mordechai. There is a tradition that Esther was buried in Bar’am, but it is unclear if this is the authentic grave.