Kfar Kama (Hebrew: כְּפַר כַּמָא, Arabic: كفر كما, Adyghe: Кфар Кама) is a Circassian town located in the Lower Galilee of Israel's northern district, located along road 767, that leads from Kfar Tavor to the Kinneret. It is one of the only two Circassian towns in Israel, the other being Rehaniya. The residents of the town are descended from the Shapsug tribe exilees from Circassia. In 2008, the town had a population of 2,900.[3]

Kfar Kama
כְּפַר כַּמָא
كفر كما
Кфар Кама
Local council (from 1950)
Hebrew transcription(s)
 • ISO 259Kfar Kamaˀ
 • Also spelledКфар Кама (Adyghe) (official)
Flag of Kfar Kama
Kfar Kama is located in Northeast Israel
Kfar Kama
Kfar Kama
Kfar Kama is located in Israel
Kfar Kama
Kfar Kama
Coordinates: 32°43′19″N 35°26′27″E / 32.72194°N 35.44083°E / 32.72194; 35.44083Coordinates: 32°43′19″N 35°26′27″E / 32.72194°N 35.44083°E / 32.72194; 35.44083
Grid position191/236 PAL
Country Israel
 • Total8,854 dunams (8.854 km2 or 3.419 sq mi)
 • Total3,373
 • Density380/km2 (990/sq mi)
Name meaningThe of truffles[2]



Archaeologists have proposed that Kfar Kama was the village Helenoupolis that Constantine established in honor of his mother Helen.[4] Excavations carried out in 1961 and 1963 revealed 4th century tombs.[5] Two churches dated to the early 6th century, one dedicated to Saint Thecla, were uncovered, with multicolored mosaics of floral, animal and geometric patterns.[5]

In the Crusader period it was known as Kapharchemme or Capharkeme.[6] Ruins and parts of five limestone columns were found in addition to a circular basalt olive-press and cisterns.[7]

In 2020, a team of archaeologists led by Nurit Feig of the Israel Antiquities Authority discovered 6th-century church remains. The excavators also revealed painted floor mosaics showing geometric shapes and blue, black, and red floral patterns. The dimensions of the main part of the church are 12 by 36 metres. Several other rooms were unearthed near the church. According to archeologist Shani Libbi, additional rooms in the area have been revealed by ground penetrating radar.[8][9]

Ottoman EmpireEdit

Circassians in traditional garb, Kfar Kama

In 1596, Kfar Kama appeared in Ottoman tax registers as a village in the Nahiya of Tiberias in the Liwa of Safad. It had a population of 34 Muslim households and paid a fixed tax rate of 25% on agricultural products, which included wheat, barley, summer crops, cotton, and goats or beehives; a total of 5,450 akçe.[10][11]

A map from Napoleon's invasion of 1799 by Pierre Jacotin showed the place, named as El Hadaci.[12] In 1838, it was mentioned as a village in the Tiberias district.[13]

In 1870s, the village was described as having basalt stone houses and a population of 200 Moslems living on a plain of arable soil.[14]

In 1878, a group of 1,150 Circassian immigrants from the Adyghe tribe Shapsugs who were exiled from the Caucasus by the Russians to the Ottoman Empire due to the Russian-Circassian War settled in the village. Initially they made their living by raising animals, but later became farmers. The first school was established about 1880.[15]

A population survey in 1887 found 1,150 inhabitants, all Circassian Muslims.[16]

British MandateEdit

Mosque next to Circassian Heritage Center in Kfar Kama

At the time of the 1922 census of Palestine by the British Mandate authorities, Kfar Kama had a population of 670 Muslims and 7 Christians,[17] decreasing slightly in the 1931 census to 644, one Christian and the rest Muslims, in a total of 169 houses.[18]

In 1945 census by the Mandate, the population was 660 people (all Muslims)[19] and the land area was 8,819 dunams.[20][19] Of this, 8,293 dunams were allocated to cereal farming,[21][19] while 108 dunams were built-up (urban) land.[22][19]


Circassians from Kfar Kama, 2011

Kfar Kama is one of two Circassian villages in Israel. The other one is Rehaniya. The Circassians are Muslims, who unlike the main Israeli Arab Muslim minority, perform military service in the Israeli Defense Forces.[23][24] The village school teaches in Circassian, Hebrew, Arabic and English.[25]

A Center for Circassian Heritage is situated in the village.[23]

Notable peopleEdit

Shapsug familiesEdit

  • Abrag (Adyghe: Абрэгь)
  • Ashmuz/Achmuzh (Adyghe: Ацумыжъ)
  • Bghana (Adyghe: Бгъанэ)
  • Bat (Adyghe: Бат)
  • Blanghaps (Adyghe: БлэнгъэпсI)
  • Batwash (Adyghe: БэтIыуашъ)
  • Jandar (Adyghe: Джэндар)
  • Gorkozh (Adyghe: ГъоркIожъ)
  • Zazi (Adyghe: Зази)
  • Kobla (Adyghe: Коблэ)
  • Qal (Adyghe: Къал)
  • Qatizh (Adyghe: Къэтӏыжъ)
  • Lauz (Adyghe: ЛъыIужъ)
  • Libai/Labai (Adyghe: ЛIыпый)
  • Nago (Adyghe: Наго)
  • Natkho (Adyghe: Натхъо)
  • Nash (Adyghe: Наш)
  • Napso (Adyghe: Нэпсэу)
  • Thawcho (Adyghe: Тхьэухъо)
  • Hazal (Adyghe: Хъэзэл)
  • Hutazh (Adyghe: Хъутӏэжъ)
  • Hadish (Adyghe: Хьэдищ)
  • Hako/Hakho (Adyghe: Хьэхъу)
  • Shamsi (Adyghe: Чэмшъо)
  • Choshha/Shoshha (Adyghe: Цушъхьэ)
  • Showgan (Adyghe: Шэугьэн)
  • Shaga (Adyghe: Шъуагьэ)
  • Sagas/Shagash (Adyghe: Шъэгьашъ)
  • Shhalakhwa (Adyghe: Шхьэлахъуэ).

Other familiesEdit

  • Abzah (Adyghe: Абзах)
  • Boshnakh (Adyghe: Бущнакъ)
  • Bazdug/Bzhedug (Adyghe: Бжъэдыгъу)
  • Yadig (Adyghe: йадиг)
  • Hatukai (Adyghe: Хьэтыкъуай)
  • Tsai (Adyghe: Цэй)
  • Shapsugh (Adyghe: Шапсыгъ).
  • Zoabi (Adyghe: Зуабй)
  • Masharqa (Adyghe: мэщаркъа)

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Population in the Localities 2019" (XLS). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  2. ^ Palmer, 1881, p. 127
  3. ^ "Population of Localities Numbering above 2,000 Inhabitants and Other Rural Population" (PDF). Israel Central Bureau of Statistics. 2008-12-31.
  4. ^ Tsafrir, Di Segni and Green, 1994, 142
  5. ^ a b Dauphin, 1998, p. 727
  6. ^ Pringle, 1997, p. 117
  7. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 391
  8. ^ "Sixth-century church found by Circassian village near Mount Tabor". Haaretz.com. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  9. ^ Amanda Borschel-Dan. "Large 6th century church compound uncovered near site of Jesus' transfiguration". www.timesofisrael.com. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  10. ^ Hütteroth and Abdulfattah, 1977, p. 190
  11. ^ Note that Rhode, 1979, p. 6 writes that the register that Hütteroth and Abdulfattah studied from the Safad-district was not from 1595/6, but from 1548/9
  12. ^ Karmon, 1960, p. 167.
  13. ^ Robinson and Smith, 1841, vol 3, 2nd Appendix, p. 131
  14. ^ Conder and Kitchener, 1881, SWP I, p. 360
  15. ^ Nirit Reichel (2010). "The role of the educational system in retaining Circassian identity during the transition from Ottoman control to life as Israeli citizens (1878–2000)". Israel Affairs. 16 (2): 251–267. doi:10.1080/13537121003643896. S2CID 143844303.
  16. ^ Schumacher, 1888, p. 185
  17. ^ Barron, 1923, Table XI, Sub-district of Tiberias, p. 39
  18. ^ Mills, 1932, p. 84
  19. ^ a b c d Department of Statistics, 1945, p. 12
  20. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 72
  21. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 122
  22. ^ Government of Palestine, Department of Statistics. Village Statistics, April, 1945. Quoted in Hadawi, 1970, p. 172
  23. ^ a b Gilad, Moshe (2012-07-05). "A Slightly Rarefied Circassian Day Trip". Haaretz.
  24. ^ Muslim revivalism and the emergence of civic society. A case study of an Israeli-Circassian community
  25. ^ Yulie Khromchenko (22 March 2005). מדברים פה בהרבה שפות? נקרא לזה "בית ספר רב לשוני [They talk a lot of languages? Called it 'a multilingual school']. Haaretz (in Hebrew). Retrieved 25 August 2014.


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