עיריית ביתר עילית
  • מדיה-1
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Historical Background

Beitar Illit traces its history to the era of the Second Temple, approximately two thousand years ago.
The city of Beitar Illit is mentioned several times in the Talmud and in other Jewish sources. Tractate Berachot mentions that the Sages added the 'Tov V'Hameitiv' blessing to Birkat Hamazon after it was made possible to bring the victims of Beitar to burial following the Romans' initial refusal. 

 

As is well known, Beitar was the center of the uprising against the Roman rule over the Land of Israel. The leader of the rebels was Shimon Bar Kochva, who received full support from the holy Sage Rabi Akiva. Initially, Bar Kochva and his fellow rebels managed to successfully beat the Romans on several fronts; however the bitter end of the uprising was brought on by the Roman army which received reinforcement from Rome, and succeeded in overpowering the Jewish strongholds one after the other.
The last and most important Jewish stronghold which stood till the very end was Beitar. In the sefer 'Avodraham', Beitar is described as being 'a large city which brings honor to Heaven, with several thousand Jewish residents'.
Unfortunately, the stronghold of Beitar was conquered as well after an agonizing siege and many bloody battles, shortly following the destruction of the Second temple. Thus, a very proud and glorious chapter in Jewish history ended – both physically and spiritually. 
Beitar was well known for its many educational networks, as is brought up in the Talmud: 'Four hundred synagogues were in Beitar and in each one there were four hundred teachers and for each teacher there were four hundred learners'. And Rabi Gamliel added: 'There were five hundred schools, and in each school were no less than three hundred learners'.
The city of Beitar stood empty and abandoned nearly two thousand years, until its renewal in 5740\1980, when the Israeli government decided to rebuild it.
Archeological findings from this magnificent, bygone era have been found in the city and the surrounding areas, confirming Beitar as being a Jewish city in the past.