History in the Neighborhood: Jason’s Tomb


Of late, I have been hard at work securing more crucial interviews and developing an experimental portion of my research here in Israel. All the while, I have also been engrossed in collecting and analyzing Israeli public opinion data, small portions of which I have posted on this blog and doing more secondary and primary source reading. In short, I have not been bored.

It is easy to get so busy that you begin to ignore the interesting things which surround you in the day-to-day. One of the most fascinating things about living in Jerusalem is that history is truly everywhere. Less than two blocks from my apartment, if you turn to the left through an obscure arch, you will find yourself in front of a surprisingly well-preserved ancient tomb. I have my suspicions that at least some restoration work has gone into it over the years.

The inscription on the wall outside the tomb is not terrible informative, reading only: “Hasmonean Era Rock Cut Tomb.” A bit of research (thank you internet) reveals that the “rock-cut tomb” belongs to Jason, or Yason, of the Oniad family, who was a high priest in the Temple in Jerusalem during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanes. This was the very same Antiochus against whom the Maccabees rebelled, commemorated by the recent holiday of Hannukah.

The tomb is nestled between several blocs of apartment buildings in the heart of Rechavia and is surrounded by a small, two-tiered green space, perhaps a bit too small to be called a proper park which connects Alfasi and Sderot Ben Maimon. Since discovering it a few months ago, I have used it as a quick cut-through between the two streets. There are very few straight lines in Jerusalem. If you are ever in the neighborhood, take time to check it out. It is definitely one of the city’s hidden historical treasures.


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