web analytics
November 29, 2014 / 7 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
IDC Herzliya Campus A Day on Campus

To mark IDC Herzliya’s 20th anniversary, we spent a day following Prof. Uriel Reichman, IDC’s founder and president, and Jonathan Davis, VP for External Relations, around its delightful campus.



The Jewish Mystical City of Safed

Documents found in the Cairo Genizah confirm that a Jewish community lived within Safed from the 13th century.
Beit-Knesset-Abuhav-

Safed, the mystical city located in the mountains of Northern Israel, is considered one of the four Holy cities according to Judaism and is filled with Jewish history from the Second Temple period to the present. Safed, a beautiful city in the Galilee, has rich Jewish history dating back to ancient times. Safed is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but the Jerusalem Talmud notes Safed as one of the five mountaintop points from where fires were lit to announce the new moon and festivals in Ancient Israel. Historians also identify Safed as Sepph, the city fortified by Josephus in the Galilee at the time of the anticipated Roman attack in 66 CE. Additionally, two ancient poems written by Eleazar Kallir claim that Jewish priestly families’ settled in Safed following the destruction of the Second Temple.

Documents found in the Cairo Genizah confirm that a Jewish community lived within Safed from the 13th century under Mamluk rule. Samuel Ben Samson, who visited there in the 13th century, claimed that the city boasted a Jewish community of at least 50. However, according to the historian Stanford Shaw, Safed’s Jewish community rose to 7,525 souls in 1555-6; due to an influx of Jews emigrating to Safed from Central Europe, the Iberian Peninsula, and from North Africa. The Sephardic Jews took refuge in Ottoman lands after given the choice between conversion to Christianity, expulsion or death in 1492. These Jewish immigrants mixed in with the local Jewish population that had been living in the Holy Land since antiquity.

Safed-in-pre-ZionismAccording to Shaw, Safed became “a major industrial and trade center during the early years of Kanuni Suleyman’s (Suleyman the Magnificent) long reign.” He claimed, “The most important source of wealth at Safed and Sidon came from a highly developed wool industry. Raw materials coming mainly from Salonika and Istanbul were woven into cloths which were sold throughout Eretz Yisrael and Syria as well as being exported to Anatolia and throughout the Mediterranean area through the port of Sidon.” The Jews of Ottoman Safed also traded in oil, honey, silk and spices.

Yet, aside from the Safed Jewish communities’ economic contributions to the Ottoman Empire, Shaw also emphasized that Safed was the “Empire’s most important center of Jewish mystic learning and contemplation.” Great rabbis such as the Jewish mystic Rabbi Isaac Luria, known as the Ha-Ari which means ‘the lion’; Joseph Caro, author of the Shulhan Arukh, considered by many to be the ultimate compendium of Jewish law; and Solomon Alkabetz, who wrote the Lecha Dodi prayer recited every Shabbat, lived in Safed.

Yet not all of the Jewish intellectuals of Safed were men. Jewish women under Ottoman rule, living in Eretz Yisrael contributed significantly to Safed’s intellectual history. Floretta of Modena engaged in a weekly course on the Tanakh, Jewish laws, the works of Maimonides, and the Zohar. She was not the only Jewish female intellectual of Safed during the Ottoman period. Channah Rochel Werbemacher, who hosted an open table on Shabbat afternoons, and Francesa Sarah, Ari’s foremost disciple, also played an active role in the Safed Jewish community.

Jewish Safed thrived until the 1929 Arab riots, during which the main Jewish street was looted and burned and 20 Jews were murdered and many injured. After this the Jewish community in Safed experienced a decline. Despite this the Safed Jewish community successfully defended the city in the face of Arab aggression during Israel’s War of Independence in 1948, resulting in Safed being absorbed as part of the State of Israel. Today, Safed is a major pilgrimage destination for Jews visiting the Holy Land, since the city is one of the four holiest cities in the Jewish religion.

Popular destinations within Safed include the Sephardic Ari Synagogue, the oldest synagogue within the city which was founded in 1522 and is named after Rabbi Isaac Luria; the Caro Synagogue that is named after Joseph Caro and possesses a Torah scroll over 500 years old; and the Alshekh Synagogue, which is named after the leading 16th century Kabbalist Rabbi Moses Alshekh and has a beautiful blue dome ceiling. In 2008, Safed had a population of 32,000 souls, of whom the majority are Jewish.

Visit United with Israel.

About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Jewish Mystical City of Safed”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

UWI blog logo
Current Top Story
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry .
NYT Ignores US Condemnation of PA Incitement, Prints Info on Ferguson Cop
Latest Blogs Stories
Worshipers were cut down as they prayed

It’s clear that Obama equates Israelis and Arabs as equal sufferers of “violence.”

Ferguson, Missouri: rioting against racism, encouraging murder

The malicious manipulation of frustrated fury is surely as egregious as merely perceived racism.

About 7 in 10 Americans view Israel favorably – making Israel the only positively viewed Middle East country. But the younger Americans get, the more they like some Arab countries.

Undoubtedly, once he’s “former president Obama” he’ll join anti-Israel Jimmy Carter against Israel.

train track grafitti

The silly people on the left have created a new campaign to try and force the rest of the country to capitulate to their suicidal fantasies, this time by riding trains and imposing themselves onto other people’s conferences.

Find out how to set goals and take better care of your finances.

As events over the last couple of weeks amply demonstrate, the status quo isn’t working out either

Australian Ambassador to Israel ran to the hospital in J’m to visit the wounded and to donate blood

Those celebrating violence with “No Justice No Peace” signs are opposed to both justice and peace.

Pop quiz: The shortest book ever written? “Palestinian History and Positive Contributions” text book

We are the continuing generations from our Father Avraham who was given this Land by our L-rd.

When a country supports ($) the PA or Gaza or “recognizes,” “Palestine,” they promoting terrorism.

There is no question whatsoever that Odeh was behind the fatal bombing of a SuperSol market in 1969

As we Jews returned to the Holy Land and prayed at our holy sites, forces fighting holiness came too

Channel 10 TV published on Sunday a poll they commissioned asking Israeli Arabs a rather straightforward but important question:

Today”s discussion: “The effects of current geopolitical situation around the world on investing.”

According to PM Netanyahu, the bill would enshrine full equality under law to all Israeli citizens.

More Articles from Rachel Avraham
Flag of Israel

Living is Israel is costlier than in other countries but how will your kids grow up in the diaspora?

aliyah

Given these statistics, I feel that it is not worth it to live in the United States.

Pro-Israel groups must broaden their coalitions and feature more pro-Israel minority speakers.

Mahmoud Abbas tortured prisoners in PA custody and oppressed critical bloggers and journalists.

None of us support violence and we found out about the story in the media, just like every one else.

Why testify against ones boss or co-worker who engage in sexual harassment, if the case will most likely be dismissed anyway?

The Fatah-Hamas divide in itself should have killed the idea of a two-state for two peoples’ paradigm.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/united-with-israel/the-jewish-mystical-city-of-safed/2013/07/10/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: