Safed, internationally known as the city of Kabbalah, is a beautiful town in northern Israel that radiates spirituality.
A small town with fresh mountain air, Safed – situated 900 meters above sea level in the Upper Galilee mountains – offers a spectacular view in all directions: east to the Golan Heights, north to Mount Hermon and Lebanon, west to Mount Meron and the Amud Valley, and south to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee (Kinneret).
Fascinating historical sites and quaint restaurants have delighted tourists. Narrow cobblestone alleyways lead to quaint medieval synagogues, homes and small guest houses as well as interesting art galleries and museums particularly suited to the beautiful city’s unique mystical character.
Safed has a diverse population of 27,000, including a vibrant community of Jews who, in recent years, have reconnected to their ancient religious heritage.
According to Jewish legend, the location is where Shem and Ever, respectively the son and grandson of Noah, established a yeshiva where the patriarch Jacob later studied.
Founded in 70 AD, the modern city of Safed began to flourish in the 16th century, when great scholars and mystics had moved there following the Jewish expulsion from Spain.
The first printing press in the Middle East was established in Safed in 1578, which at the time was also a thriving center of trade. In the ensuing years, the city experienced numerous earthquakes, plagues and attacks by Arabs.
The liberation of Safed in 1948 involved one of the most dramatic episodes of Israel’s War of Independence.
In the past decade, thousands of Russian and Ethiopian immigrants as well as Westerners have settled there. Relations between religiously observant and secular residents are excellent.
The city’s website says it best:
“Safed is the balance where the spiritual meets the physical, where the East meets the West, where Hashem [God] guides you along the path but your efforts allow you to merit the reward. Everyone is invited to experience and appreciate the challenge.”
Date: Mar. 27, 2014
(With files from Israel’s Ministry of Tourism and the city’s website.