Kfar Yassif was formerly a Jewish village / DR.R.S.Lissak

Kfar Yassif was formerly a Jewish Village and Sephardic Jews lived there from the 16th century until 1870.

Kfar Yassif today is a large Arabic village in the Western Galilee, east of Acre. Its population of 9100 is comprised of 48% Christians, 48% Muslims, and the rest are Druze. There are 5 churches in the village, 2 mosques, and a holy Druze Maqam, El Khader.

There are several versions on the name of the site. In the book of Joshua 19, 20, it was mentioned as Hossa, and was part of estate of tribe Asher. In the Septuagint translation of the bible it was mentioned as Ya-ssif. Josephus Flavius called the site Kfar Acco, and it was mentioned in the Talmud by this name. According to the Jewish tradition the village was given to Flavius by Aspasianus and was renamed after him, Kfar Yoseph.

Kfar Yassif , was continuously populated by Jews from the 12th century BCE until the 5th century CE, and from the 16th century until 1870.

The Pre-Israelite Period

An ancient settlement existed at the site of Kfar Yassif, archaeologically dated to the time of the Canaanites. This ancient settlement was situated on the main highway to Lebanon and Syria.

The Second Temple Period (538 BCE – 70 CE)

The village continued to be Jewish along the Second Temple Period. It was fortified by Flavius in preparation for the Great Revolt (66-70CE) against the Romans.
An ancient inscription in Greek was discovered in the village. It was dedicated to 2 Syrian Gods and it is probably from the Second Century BCE.

The Roman & Byzantine Periods (70CE – 638CE)

The village was populated by Jews throughout the Mishna and Talmud period. Excavations unearthed the remains of a Jewish village from the 2nd or 3rd century.
Excavations also unearthed an array of graves from that time. The entrance to the array is kept in the Louvre in Paris, and the Menorah and other Jewish motifs engraved on it certify that the graves were undoubtedly Jewish. The array is dated from the Byzantine period. An ancient well and a mosaic floor with an inscription in Greek and a star of David, dated from the 5th century, were discovered not far from the village. The floor may have belonged to an ancient synagogue.

The Arabic Period (640 – 1099)

There is no information on this period.

The Crusader Period (1099 – 1260 )

Remains from the Crusader period indicate that the village continued to exist through the Crusader period. During the Crusader period the village was mentioned in 5 Crusaders' records between 1196 and 1257. It was renamed Capharsin, and became part of the estate of the Teutonic Order.
The Order was founded in 1190 during the siege of Acre, to take care of sick German crusaders.

The Mameluke Period (1260 – 1516)

From a Question & Answer correspondence by Rabbi Moshe Hadayan, the head of a Yeshiva in Saffed, we know that in 1507—1509 he had a student from Kfar Yassif. This means that Jews were living in the village.
Between the Crusader period and the end of the Mamluk period there is a gap in information about Jews in the village. There is also no information on the beginnings of Christian and Muslim settlement in Kfar Yassif.

The Ottoman Period (1516 – 1918)

Ottoman tax lists from 1525 to 1535 mention the names of 10 Jewish families in Kfar Yassif, which is one of the 10 Jewish villages and 3 Jewish towns listed in Yitzhak Ben Zvi’s study. Tax lists from 1555—1556 number 86 families in Kfar Yassif, 16 Christian and Muslim bachelors and 29 Jewish families. This is the first record since the Crusader period of the number of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in Kfar Yassif. In 1572-1573 the number of Jewish families went down to 18.

There is other evidence of the existence of Jewish families in the village between the 16th and mid 19th centuries. Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal settled in Kfar Yassif during the 16th century. Rabbi Yom-Tov Zahalon from Saffed arranged a divorce in Kfar Yassif in 1590.

A Franciscan monk reported a Jewish community in Kfar Yassif in the first half of the 17th century. There is evidence that in 1702 about 10 Jewish families were living and farming in the village. Locust plagued the Galilee in 1707, causing a famine. Rabbi Hayim Atar and his students, together with Rabbi Avraham Hai Ishmael Sanvinisti visited Kfar Yassif in 1741 and met a Jewish community of 10 families. The drought that broke out in the Galilee shortly thereafter forced these families to leave.

Rabbi Shlomo Abadi from Saloniki renewed the Jewish settlement in 1745, planning to build a synagogue and a Torah school in the village.
He went on a fundraising tour in 1747, equipped with a letter of recommendation signed by 10 of the Jewish inhabitants of Kfar Yassif: Yaakov Mordechai Yaish, Ezra Shemuel, Avraham Bakhar Yesha’ia, Yesha’ia Bakhar Avraham, Hayim Shemuel, Yitzhak Bakhar Ephraim, Shimeon Davik HaCohen, Mordechai Yaakov Yaish, Bekhor Shemuel Nahon, Shemuel Mordechai Mizrahi.

It seems that the synagogue was built after 1750. Stephanus Schultz, a German missionary, toured the country in 1754. He heard from the British consul in Acre that there are Jews in Kfar Yassif and in the neighbouring villages. Together with the British consul’s son, Schultz visited the village and met with Avraham Galal and other Jews. Rabbi Yoseph Sopher from Brody (in Galicia; now in the Ukraine) arrived in Kfar Yassif in 1762 and stayed there 3 years, mending Torah scrolls. He told of about 20 families of Jewish farmers. A Jewish tourist, Symcha Ben Yeoshua, visited the village in 1764 and reported 20 Jewish families.

An epidemic broke out in the area in 1812 and the Jews left temporarily. Rabbi David D’veit Hillel visited the village in 1824 and met some 15 families of Jews born in Israel who made their living from farming. They spoke Arabic. He also reports a small synagogue. Sir Moses Montefiore visited Kfar Yassif in 1838 and met Jewish farmers. Abraham Finci, British deputy consul in Acre, reports in 1839 that there were Jewish farmers in Kfar Yassif.

End of the Jewish Community in Kfar Yassif

Rabbi Yossef Schwartz reported in 1840 the end of the Jewish settlement in Kfar Yassif, but mentions that the synagogue there was still standing. According to another source the Jewish community in Kfar Yassif ceased to exist in 1841 and those Jews who survived left for Acre and Shfar’am. Yuval Elazari found evidence that in 1834 an Arab peasants revolt broke out in the Galilee during which many villages were destroyed, including Kfar Yassif, and the Jews left the village. As Jews were still living in the village in 1838, 1840/41 is assumed to be the date the community ceased to exist there. A census conducted by Sir Moses Montefiore in Acre in 1849 lists a family that came from Kfar Yassif.

The end of the Jewish settlement is tied in with the country’s change of regime. In 1831, Ibrahim Pasha, son of Mohammed Ali (ruler of Egypt), began his conquest of Ottoman-ruled Israel and Syria. The area of Acre was conquered in May 1832. Ibrahim Pasha taxed the population heavily, and consequently a rebellion broke out in 1834.

There are two theories explaining why the village was abandoned. One theory is that the rebels robbed and pillaged as well, and the lack of security caused the Jews to leave the village. The other theory is that the reestablishment of Ottoman rule is the cause. The Ottomans returned in 1839 to try and force Ibrahim Pasha out of the country, and the area reverted to Ottoman rule in 1840/1. The Ottoman government demanded that all subjects pay the taxes owed to it for the years of Ibrahim Pasha’s rule. Jewish families in the Galilee were forced to sell their lands or abandon them. The Jews of Peki’in and Shfar’am managed to overcome their difficulties, but the Jews of Kfar Yossef could not and therefore left. The 1840/41 date fits this theory.

Yitzhak Ben Zvi, modern Israel’s second president and one of the leading researchers of its history, took testimony from Sephardic Jews from Acre and Haifa that a synagogue and a yeshiva operated in Kfar Yassif. There is evidence that the synagogue was standing when the Jews left the village. Evidence also exists that the synagogue’s remains could still be seen until a few years before World War I.

Yitzhak Ben Zvi interviewed several of the village elders who told him that the Jews’ houses were located in the Tarra A- Saoude quarter and can be identified by their entries, built low for security reasons, and to prevent Ottoman soldiers from entering the houses with their horses. Arab villagers overtook the houses when the Jews left and destroyed the Jewish signs of identification (mezuzahs). Only one house kept them and on its door's frame one can see a menorah, a palm-branch and a horn.

Khalil Al Mazagit told Ben Zvi about his Jewish friend, Abdallah El Zakkout, the last Jew in Kfar Yassif, who fell in love with a Druze girl, and left the village in 1870. Sheikh Assad El Sa’id told him that in 1867 he met a Jew named Yitzhak in Tiberias, who said he was born in Kfar Yassif and whose family sold its home to Assad Massa’ada when they left the village.

Victor Guerin visited the village at the end of the 19th century and reported 600 occupants, 100 of them Muslim and the rest Greek Orthodox. The Greek Orthodox church is the oldest of the churches in Kfar Yassif and is estimated to be 250 years old. The researcher Yossef Braslavi reports that according to Michael Bolous, a resident of Kfar Yassif, the Greek Orthodox church there was built around the beginning of the 18th century.

The Cemetery

The ancient cemetery in Kfar Yassif was used by Jews since the 16th century and until World War I according to another version; and until 1929 according to another version. The Jews of Acre buried their dead there from the 16th century on. The Moriya newspaper reported on 16 April 1912 that the cemetery, which had become too crowded, was enlarged thanks to a donation made by Benjamin De Rothschild.

Rabbi Moshe Hayim Luzato, one of the foremost Jewish spiritual leaders of the 18th century, was born in Italy in 1707, moved to Amsterdam, and from there immigrated to Israel in 1743 with his wife and son, settling in Acre. All three died in the epidemic that broke out in Acre during that time. Rabbi Moshe Hayim died on 16 May 1746, and although traditions hold that he is buried near Rabbi Akiva’s grave in Tiberias or on a mountain near the city, it is more likely that, as a resident of Acre, he and his family were buried in the ancient Jewish cemetery in Kfar Yassif. Evidence of that comes from travelers who toured the country.

The British Mandate Period (1917 – 1948)

During the Arab Revolt, in 1939, the British army set fire to half the buildings in the village because it suspected that Kfar Yassif villagers acted against British forces. It was later discovered that the villagers were not involved, and the Mandate Government compensated the residents and the local council. The funds were used to build a school and a commercial building.


Kfar Yassif has an outstanding schooling system and excels in the high percentage of university degree holders among its graduates. Kfar Yassif works towards cooperation between Arabs and Jews and “a just peace and economic prosperity”. The ancient Jewish cemetery is fenced and the Ministry of Religions supervises the site.

In conclusion, there was continuous Jewish occupancy in Kfar Yassif from the 12th century BCE until the 5th century CE. There is an information gap between that time and the 16th century, and we don't know what happened to the Jews. Were they victims of the massacre by Christians in 628 because Jews helped Persians to conquer the country in 614?
Jews exiled from Spain joined the village in the 16th century. The village was abandoned for short periods during the great drought of 1742-1744 and the epidemic of 1812, and was abandoned finally in 1840/41. It seems that one Jew was living there until around 1870. It is not known when Christians and Muslims began settling in the village. They are first mentioned in the mid 16th century. Since the older Christians were Greek Orthodox, it is possible that they arrived during the Byzantine period, while the Muslims arrived later at an unknown date.

the jews cames from germany

there is no real jewa today
all the jews are russians and europians
the real semitic peaple are the arabs

you need to learn history. Jews' motheland is the holy land

All history books will tell you that the Jewish majprity in the holy land was eliminated by the Roman and Byzantine empires.

There weremore than 3,000,000 Jews in the country when the Romans conquered the country 63 BCE and only about 150,000 survived untul the 5th century CE.
Many were killed as rebels, many were massacred, many were enslaved and sold and many ran away because othe situation, the religous pesrecution and economic policy against Jews.

The settled in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Europe and all over.

Now they are coming back home.

Jews lived in Kfar Yassif during the Crusaders Period

I read today an article by Arie Graboyes on "The Galilee during the Crudaders" and found out that Jews lived in Kfar Yassif in the 12- 13 centuries.
This means that they might have lived there all the time but we don't have the information.It makes no sense that they came back. It makes more sense that they lived there all the time.

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