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Monday, July 30, 2012

Thinking Tzfat This Summer?

[I'm traveling on business south of the equator and genuinely missing the warm weather back in Israel. For those in a summer mindset and looking for a great destination, here's a little write-up offered by a friend while I'm away]

The expanding tourism infrastructure in Tzfat is drawing tourists in increasing numbers, both native Israelis and foreign visitors. The peak of the tourist season occurs during the summer months when the historical sites and galleries stay open late to accommodate the thousands of people who stream through the Old Jewish Quarter and Artists Colony daily.

Visits to Safed often begin at the Tzfat Tourist Information Center where there are maps and guidebooks as well as suggestions and explanations about how to make the most of a Safed visit. The Visitors Center also offers a ten-minute movie about the History of Safed as well as an opportunity to descend into 500-year-old tunnels which have been excavated by the Livnot U'Lehibanot Israel Experience Program.

Summer visitors will find four old synagogues open daily including the Ari Ashkanazi, the Yosef Caro, the Abuhav and the Ari Sepharadi. In addition the legendary "cave" where Rabbi Yosef Caro is believed to have sat with the "Maggid" -- angel -- to write the Shulhan Aruch Code of Jewish Law is accessible to visitors who can walk down the stairs to the left of the synagogue in the morning and evening hours.

There are a number of additional activities that visitors can enjoy in the area. Dozens of art galleries are open throughout the Old City which exhibit a wide range of Judaica as well as contemporary and traditional artwork, crafts such as pottery and glass fusion and unique examples of weaving and wax sculptures.

Tzfat is known as the City of Kabbalah. Visitors can learn more about Kabbalah by viewing the 15-minute movie at the International Center of Tzfat Kabbalah or joining a class at the Ascent Institute. Many local artists combine their study of Kabbalah with their art and they invite visitors into their galleries to explain how Kabbalistic concepts influence their work.

Posted by David Bogner on July 30, 2012 | Permalink

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Don't miss Otzar HaStam of Tzfat. I visited the center with a group last spring and we had a fabulous experience!!! It was both educational and entertaining -- and really added a special dimension to our trip. (stam is an acronym for Torah, tefillin, and mezuzot.)

Posted by: Lynne | Jul 31, 2012 4:00:25 PM

We are actually going in a couple of weeks. What is there to do in the area, besides in Tsfat itself?

Posted by: Baila | Jul 31, 2012 6:05:45 PM

R Yosef Karo had a magid "helping" him write the Shulchan Aruch? I have heard of his magid, but never in this context. Do you have a source?

Posted by: Chareidi Chutznik | Aug 1, 2012 4:32:33 AM

Having just been to Tzfat, I can most definitely recommend spending at least a few hours there browsing the art galleries and visiting the old synagogues. You can also spend endless afternoons debating whether to call it "Tzfat," "Zefat," or "Safed."

Posted by: Elisson | Aug 1, 2012 3:51:05 PM

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