The Bet Alfa synagogue, located in the Bet She’an Valley, was founded at the end of the fifth century CE. The synagogue consists of a courtyard, corridor, rectangular main hall with the spectacular mosaic floor, second-storey balcony and another room.
An Aramaic mosaic inscription at the entrance to the synagogue reveals that the floor was laid during the reign of Justinian (apparently Emperor Justinian I). The other inscription, in Greek, mentions the mosaic’s artists, Marianus and his son Hanina.
The colorful mosaic in the main hall is divided into three panels. They depict the Ark of the Covenant, the zodiac and the offering of Isaac.
The 12 signs of the zodiac appear in Hebrew, surrounding the sun god, Helios, driving his four-horse chariot across the sky. Four female figures in the corners represent the four seasons. The third panel depicts the offering of Isaac, showing a bearded Abraham holding a knife over his son Isaac.
An audiovisual presentation highlights daily life in the ancient village and the making of the mosaic.
How to get there: The synagogue is located on the grounds of Kibbutz Heftsiba, off road 996 between HaShita junction and Bet She’an, about 10 minutes west of Bet She’an; Egged bus 412 from Afula.
Length of tour:15-30 minutes
Best season:year-round; the mosaic is in a roofed, air-conditioned building
Don't miss:The approximately 10-minute audiovisual presentation
Other facilities and attractions: Souvenir shop; snack-bar
Hours:April-September: 8 A.M.-5 P.M.
October-March: 8 A.M.-4 P.M.
Last entry one hour before above closing hour
Entrance fee:Adult: NIS 22; child: NIS 10;
Israeli senior citizens: NIS 11
Group (over 30 people): Adult: NIS 19; child 8
Entrance to dogs: no entrance to dogs
Accessibility: The synagogue building is wheelchair-accessible. In the near future a touchable model will be placed in the courtyard for the benefit of visually impaired visitors.