by Hope Chernak, RJE & Shaaray Tefila Teens
We travelled to Akko, a Port City today with the Shaaray Tefila teens and two of our Israelis (Nir M and Gilad). Akko has operated as a continuous port city for 4000 years. The port was built during the reign of Ptolemais II transforming Akko into an international port city and the gateway to Israel. In the 13th Century, Akko became the capital of the Crusader Kingdom in the Holy Land. It is a beautiful city that has preserved its history and we had the honor of receiving a tour of Akko by a dear friend of Rabbi Gabby Dagan, Hisham.
Hisham took us around the old city telling us the history of the Arabs and Jews through history in the city. We climbed the walls and walked by the harbor. We also spent some time in the Templars. The Templars were a monastic military order that guarded European pilgrims arriving in Holy land to visit holy places. The order’s main fortress in Akko was built at the western end of the tunnel. The tunnel that we walked in today was cut in natural stone. It served as a strategic underground passageway linking the fortress with the port. We walked from the sea underground to take us to the market that is still used today.
Here are a couple of posts from our Shaaray Tefila teens about today’s adventures:
“Today we spent the day in Akko and learned about mosques, ancient history and spent some time in the market. We really saw a lot of the culture in Akko from touring the city, which was very eye opening. We visited the templar tunnels and the knight halls as well; this gave us a great look at the city’s history. The market we explored was full of spices, jewelry, clothing, and so much more! It was cool to see the interaction between people in the market and it gave great insight about their culture and lifestyle.”
– Sam S-T
“Akko is such an amazing and beautiful place filled with so much culture and expression. We met one of Rabbi Gabby’s friends named Hisham who told us a lot about his experience growing up in Akko. We toured the old city, templars, tunnels, knight halls and a beautiful mosque. This mosque has a lot of history and also a lot of character; it sparked a lot of questions for us! There were a lot of cool things here, like a board that says how much time a person has for each prayer, and what time they are at specifically. There were also beautiful scriptures surrounding the walls. We learned about Islamic culture and history regarding Akko from Hisham and it was really interesting to learn about something I did not have much knowledge of before. For lunch, we went to a hummus place where each person got a plate of hummus, pita bread and toppings and it was the most delicious thing I’ve ever tasted in my life! We then walked around in the market, which was so nice and everyone was so friendly. We even got to try some really nice desserts and buy some nice souvenirs. It was a great memorable day!”
– Hannah S.