We’ve got recommendations regarding newly built park in Tel-Aviv. Thus, one Saturday morning we went to check it out. What we didn’t know is that the park is located next to Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir.
Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir is located in Abu Kabir neighborhood, Southern Part of Tel Aviv. Next to Ofer Cohen and Levanon streets.
Map of the area:
The park next to the church is indeed quite nice. There is free parking (entrance from Ofer Cohen St. while driving east). Close to the parking, you can find tables for a picnic. Which is convenient since you won’t need to carry food. If you continue into the park then you’ll find greenery, big playground for children and the Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir.
Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir
First of all, naming is somewhat problematic. Different sites refer to it using different names. Some refer it as Russian Orthodox Church, others as Church of St. Peter or Church of St. Peter and St. Tabitha in Jaffa (though it’s located in Tel-Aviv) and sometimes this site is called Tabitha’s Tomb.
So who was Tabitha?
The church was built at the site of Tabitha’s grave. Known as Tzvia in Hebrew, Tabitha was a student, beloved for her kindness and the many good deeds she did for the community of Jaffa. She became ill and passed away while still young. St. Peter prayed and brought her back to life in a miracle described in the Book of Acts. Tabitha went on to live until a ripe old age. She was buried in a cave near the Russian Orthodox Church and was later canonized as a Christian saint.
Thus, according to the New Testament, both St. Peter and Tabitha visited this location and a cave that’s located nearby is believed to be Tabitha’s burial cave.
The Russians acquired the land during the late Ottoman period, in 1874. On the hill slope an ancient, 2000 year old Jewish cemetery from the Roman period was discovered in the 19th century. In 1835 a burial cave was discovered by a Russian monk who thought it belonged to the ancient Tabitha, a girl whom St. Peter revived and cured, according to the New Testament. This burial cave was proclaimed as a holy place, and the church (inaugurated in 1894) was dedicated to St. Peter.
Its location was strategic: close to the main Jaffa – Jerusalem road, which was the road pilgrims used to take from the port of Jaffa to the holy city of Jerusalem. The church provided lodging to Russian pilgrims.
The Church Building
The walls and ceiling of this nineteenth-century house of prayer are almost entirely covered with beautiful murals and icons.
Tabitha’s Burial Cave
if you continue north to the entrance then you’ll see a trail on the left side. At the end of that trail you can find the burial cave:
Inside the cave:
Psittacula parrots in the gardens:
The towers of Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir:
And the last look of the church with the gardens:
This is a small hidden gem in Tel-Aviv. And it took me more that 20 years of living in Israel till I’ve visited the Russian Orthodox Church in Abu Kabir. Moreover, the new parks around it add another reason for visiting.
That’s all for today and I’ll see you in future travels!
For additional points of interest nearby see Tel Aviv-Yafo page.