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safed abuhav synagogue

Nestling in the lush forests of the upper Galilee, Safed (in Hebrew, “Tzfat”) is a city packed with history, spirituality, and mysticism. Safed’s origins go back to the time of the Canaanites, and it has been re-built several times ever since. The Romans, Crusaders, Ottomans, and the British left their mark in the city. Safed is a vibrant city known mainly as the center of Jewish religious and mystical studies (“Kabbalah”) and an artists’  colony.

History of Safed

Humans settled in Safed since prehistoric times, although evidence from before the time of the Crusaders is scarce. This is primarily because of the Templars, who have erected a giant fort on the top of Safed. This massive construction covered most of the remains of previous periods. Safed fort was one of the most strategic vantage points in the Holy Land. However, in 1187, After a long siege, Saladin conquered Safed, and the city returned to Muslim hands. In the following centuries, a civic center of Jews and Muslims developed around the ruined Citadel.

In the 16th century, the Jewish Quarter flourished as a Rabbinical and Kabbalah center. Kabbalah esoteric philosophy developed at that time, and Rabbi Yoseph Karo compiled the “Shulchan Aruch”, an essential book of Jewish law.

In 1929, the Arabs of Safed raided and massacred 18 of the Jews living in the city. In return, in the 1948 Israeli-Arab war, the Jews expelled the Arabs out of Safed. Later, the town developed mainly as a Jewish religious center and an artists’ colony.

Touring Safed

charity-safedThe hotspot of the city is the Jewish quarter of the old town. Its central cobbled stone alley presents a colorful mix of Judaica art galleries, workshops of local crafts, Cafés, and small synagogues. The stone-built houses are often painted in blue, as local mystical tradition holds that this confuses evil spirits. Yosef Karo synagogue, in the heart of the old city, is an excellent example of such design. It is said to have been built above the cave where the ‘Maggid,’ a type of angel, guided Rabbi Karo in writing his significant book on Jewish law (‘Sulchan Aruch’). In an alley beneath is the Abuhav Synagogue. This is the oldest and possibly loveliest synagogue in Safed. Its elevated wooden Bema is set under a decorated dome, painted with various Jewish and Kabbalah symbols. Abuhav synagogue is also an excellent location for arranging a special Bar-Mitzvah ceremony.

A tour of Tsfat can be combined with a day tour in the north.

Bar-Mitzvah Ceremony in Safed

bar-mitzvah-in-safedWith so much Jewish history and spirituality revitalized in modern times, Safed is an excellent location for setting an extraordinary and unforgettable Bar-Mitzvah event. The ceremony can take place in any of the picturesque synagogues in the old city, and the event can be combined with a local klezmer musical procession and a party in one of the hotels in the city. Contact Us to inquire about such an event.

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