Maimonides lived over 800 years ago, but, whether or not we know how he looked, he is still being researched, quoted, studied and argued over constantly by Torah sages and scholars, historians, physicians and members of the legal profession. This past weekend, over 500 people from all over Israel attended the seventh annual 3-day Rambam Conference in Tiberias to hear lectures by rabbis, public figures and academics on various aspects of the life and works of Maimonides. Seven years during which none of the lectures have repeated themselves - and next year is already being planned.I hope the artifacts are more conclusive than the folk legend.
Why Tiberias? After all, Rabbi Moshe (Moses) ben Maimon, known by his acronym, the Rambam, is claimed by the city of his birth, Cordoba, Spain. A world-famous statue of the Torah giant, astronomer, philosopher and physician, though actually a likeness of Muslem philosopher Avicennes according to Dr. Schwartz, stands in the Cordoba Hudariya (Jewish quarter), glossing over the insignificant fact that the Rambam was forced to flee the city in order to save his life at the age of 10.
The Rambam lived in Morocco for a time and then spent most of his life in Egypt at the court of the Sultan, but his burial place, although the subject of some debate, is believed to be in Tiberias, based on artifacts found at a now-reconstructed site at the edge of the ancient city's cemetery. A folk legend states that when he died, his body was put on the back of a camel to prevent controversy over where he should be buried, and that the camel made its way to Tiberias.
The eight-hundredth anniversary of the death of Maimonides was commemorated in 2004, as noted here and here.