Snow Photos of the Day

The last time it snowed in Jerusalem was February 2015 and I wrote about it here.

Headed out early this morning to take photographs of the snow that had fallen overnight. Idea was to check whether Herodion was covered with snow but it quickly became apparent that there hadn’t been enough snow.

Tekoa looking south

Across from Herodion is the Jewish settlement of Tekoa, home of the prophet Amos. The early morning sun lit up the houses and to the south in the distance were the Hebron Hills covered in snow.

Where is this??

Traveled on a road for the first time and discovered these hills covered with a dusting of snow. If you can pinpoint where these hills are I’ll buy you an ice-cream. 

Snow covered hills

In total I drove a 100km looking for snow pictures. It was cold and wet out. This photo was the last one taken today, from Metzad, looking east toward the Dead Sea and Jordan.

Almond trees in blossom in the snow

Driving towards the Palestinian town of Si’ir I passed terraces with almond and olive trees. I almost didn’t make the effort to get out of car to get this shot but I’m glad I did. 

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If you’re into photography I’d be happy to guide you to places throughout Israel and you’ll get some great photographs.

Photographs on this website are © Shmuel Browns (unless marked otherwise) – if you are interested in buying or using one of my photos for your own project please contact me.

Favorite Photographs of 2020

If you’re reading this then you made it through 2020, a year that probably didn’t turn out quite the way you thought it would. With the Covid-19 pandemic I didn’t travel out of Israel so photographs in 2020 were all taken here and quite a variety, showing that Israel is truly a great place to visit. And you probably weren’t able to come to Israel so I haven’t had any guiding for a year, since last February. To stay sane Alan Harkavy, a good friend and fellow guide and I used the time to explore Israel more deeply and become even better guides (and then 2 more guides Leontine Caen & Eva Grunhut joined us) and we look forward to sharing these new experiences with you when you come. I will share some of our adventures in another post.

I’ve reviewed the many photographs I took this last year and I’ve chosen a dozen or so favorites to show you here. These photos were taken with a Nikon D850 digital DSLR with the Nikkor 28-300mm lens. I also got a DJI Mavic Air 2 drone and will share a few of those photos in another post. If you like these photos on your computer screen you should see what they look like when they’re printed BIG (47x70cm image) in high-resolution, framed and hanging on the wall.

When you purchase one (or more) of these photographs for your home or office they will remind you of Israel. You can contact me here. Thank you for your support.

Just click on the thumbnail image you would like see at full size, clicking the arrows (< and >) will move you through the images.

If you didn’t find exactly the photograph you want, I have another set of photos here. You can contact me by clicking here.

Photographs For Sale

Since the lifting of Covid-19 lockdown I’ve been doing a lot of traveling around Israel, discovering new places and have taken a lot of amazing photographs. I’ve now printed more than 20 of these photos in LARGE size (70x46cm) and am offering them for sale as limited edition prints. Please contact me if you are interested in any of these photos to enhance your space. And if you email me the name of the photo you’re thinking of with a photo of your room (image on left of your dining room for example) I’ll send you back an email with the photo hung digitally on your wall (photo on right).

Email me photo of your room
I’ll email your photo hanging on wall

Clicking on any of the images will display the thumbnail at full size. I hope you enjoy these landscapes of Israel.

Here are two more images that are available (in a vertical form).

Bet Shearim
Nahal Katlav

Re-discovering Sussita

Today for my birthday we drove up to the Sea of Galilee, along the eastern shore until Ein Gev (highway <92>) and then turned off beside a field of banana plants on a road that winds its way onto the Golan. After a number of hairpin turns we reached a parking area and walked to the summit (350 meters above the lake) to the remains of the Byzantine city of Sussita (known as Hippos in its earlier Hellenistic incarnation).

d850370d850371With General Pompey’s conquest of Sussita in 63BCE it became one of the cities of the Decapolis, a group of ten Roman cities on the eastern frontier of the Empire. According to Josephus, Hippos had a mixed population of Christians (eight churches have been discovered), pagans and Jews (but so far no synagogue has been found).

Sussita is a remarkable archaeological site and yet is hardly known and seldom visited. Most of the building and the street paving stones are of black basalt (rather than white limestone) and the main Roman street that runs for a total length of about 500 meters like a spine across the top of the hill is not the usual Cardo but actually the Decumanus.

To the left of the site off the Decumanus is the bath-house with a great view of the lake below._D850349

Here is the view looking west along the Decumanus._D850344

To the north is a large public building with plastered columns and another church (NorthWest Church)._D850346_D850361

On the south side of the Northwest Church are two rectangular pools, the walls are plastered and there are steps leading down to the bottom. They look like they could be ritual baths (mikve) but actually these basins were used to collect grape juice. Next to the basins is a large area, the treading floor, where the grapes were placed and crushed by the feet of the workers in order to extract their juice._D850362Besides three wine presses in the area there is also an oil press and storage area for agriculture products used by the priests and monks.

In 2009 archaeologists uncovered an Odeon (in Greek, to sing), a semi-circular mini-theater with about 600 seats used for musical shows and poetry reading, the first to be discovered in Israel._D850352_D850354

Sussita and Bet Shean, both cities of the Decapolis;  small theaters; churches and synagogues; aqueducts; earthquakes that leveled cities until archaeologists re-discovered them – there is much to learn and experience with a guide.

You can read more about the excavations at their website or on FB at Hippos-Sussita Excavations Project


Today we drove north (from Jerusalem) along highway 60, up the spine of the Shomron to the remains of the ancient city of Samaria-Sebaste.

Samaria was the site purchased by Omri for two talents of silver from Shemer and made the capital of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Kings I 16:24-28). Omri’s son Ahab married the Phoenician princess Jezebel and they built a temple to the pagan god Baal which was later destroyed by Jehu, who had Jezebel and 70 princes of Ahab’s family killed.

Sebaste, the Greek equivalent of the Latin Augusta, was Herod’s name for the city when the area was given to him by the Emperor Augustus. Herod rebuilt the city, in full Roman style, a kilometer long cardo of 600 columns, a forum, a Roman basilica, stadium, temple, hippodrome and theater surrounded by a wall and gates.

After we passed the road leading to Shavei Shomron highway 60 loops around the settlement, a tall concrete separation wall on the left and then heads north. A short drive and you take a right through a grove of olive trees to the gate of the city and then pass two rows of Roman columns marking the Cardo, one row standing along the road and others in a row among the trees.

Looking out from city gate
Columns along the Cardo

Continuing along the road we passed some excavated ruins and shortly reached the town square beside the Forum lined by rows of columns.

Area of Roman Forum in main square

The archaeological remains are strewn around the area. The road in front of the Samaria restaurant takes you to the Hellenistic tower and Roman theater.

Roman theater

From there we walked to the top of the hill, the acropolis where Herod built a temple to Augustus over the administrative buildings and parts of the palace of Omri from the 8th century BCE.

The monumental steps leading to the temple were redone with the rebuilding of the temple during the reign of Septimus Severus (193-211CE).
Remains of Omri’s palace

From there we walked to the ruins of a small 7th century Byzantine church with Crusader additions where according to one tradition the head of John the Baptist was kept. It’s then a short walk back to the main square.

We wanted to visit the small museum in Nabi Yahya Mosque, a former Crusader cathedral but when we went to check it was closed (probably due to the Corona pandemic). We did notice a sign for some Royal tombs which turned out to be a deep pit which contained about a half dozen sarcophagi.

Part of a great day trip that’s off the beaten path that I guide!

Synagogues on the Golan


Um el-Kanatir (Arabic for Mother of the Arches) is an impressive set of standing ruins of a Jewish village from the Byzantine era (5-8th C) with a synagogue built of local basalt stone. The town was destroyed by the earthquake of 749 CE and never rebuilt. Because of its remote location, out in the field a kilometer past Natur, all the stones of the synagogue were found in situ and over a period of a dozen years the synagogue has been rebuilt, stone by stone.

Last year while photographing & hiking on the Golan with Sumsum I went to visit the site of the ancient synagogue at Umm el-Kanatir, one of the most important Jewish historic sites on the Golan Heights.

Um El-Kanatir site

Today the synagogue stands with its Torah ark built of ornately carved basalt as it was some 1800 years ago. They did an amazing job, a must see!

Outside facade of synagogue
Inside of synagogue with Torah ark