|The Artists Quarter, Safed|
|Davidka Monument, Safed|
The Artists Quarter, the old part of Safed, consists of delightful narrow cobblestone alleys full of artist's galleries, medieval synagogues, lovely private homes and gardens, and small guest houses, such as the charming Bar El Bed-and-Breakfast where we stayed for three nights. When I read how the BarEls restored their historic home and opened it as a bed-and-breakfast it resonated with me, as that was what Dan & I did with the Elkhorn Inn! The big difference is that an "old" building in Landgraff, WV means it was built in 1922, and an "old" building in Safed means it was constructed prior to 1500!
In the 1980s I came to Safed to write an article for an Israeli Education Dept. publication on "Livnot v'Lehibanot" (To Build and to Be Built), a program involving students in both ongoing archaeology and personal discovery in Safed. I was lucky to meet a couple who had immigrated to Israel from Canada and had bought a home in Safed; they decided to dig down below their floor- uncovering the history of Safed, layer by layer- and they kept digging until they hit the Crusader-era toilets, which became the amazing highlight of their basement! The last time I'd been in Safed was in 1985 when I was in the Israeli Army. The Education Corps sent me to Safed to illustrate a book on Safed's history, and I spent a wonderful week traveling around Safed with my pens and pads, making detailed pen-and-ink illustrations of buildings and historic sites dating from ancient times thru the War of Independence in 1948...
|Safed, in the mist...|
|"The Purple Door" to the BarEl B&B,|
our home in Safed!
|A hand-painted |
electrical box in Safed!
|Artists Quarter, Safed|
|Our guest room|
|Dan, at home! BarEl B&B|
|Our guest room, BarEl B&B|
|Ronen: Mr. Lachouch!|
Wandering through the beautiful stone alleyways full of galleries we found the Canaan Gallery, a wonderful weaver's gallery and workshop where Orna Mor and her staff creates hand-woven textiles influenced by Kabbalistic teachings of Safed, as well as the nature that surrounds the town. In creating Judaica, talit (prayer shawls), kippot (head-coverings), challah covers (ceremonial covers for the Sabbath bread), and other beautiful things, Orna weaves designs which not only visualize the holidays and life-cycle events that the objects are going to be used for, but include the concepts that these ceremonies represent. I loved the beautiful, locally hand-made things in her shop, as well as her delightful cafe with its views of the city, and we bought gifts for friends there, as well as two special ceramic pomegranates for the Elkhorn Inn...
|Orna, Canaan Gallery, Safed|
|Dan, with a weaver at Canaan Gallery, Safed|
|Thread colored with Tchelet, the ancient and famed blue dye,|
used for prayer shawl tzizit (tassels); Canaan Gallery, Safed
|Canaan Gallery weaving studio, Safed|
|From the Cafe at Canaan Gallery, Safed|
Safed is also famous for its ancient cemetery, and people come from all over the world to sit, pray, beseech, or simply be in the company of the great rabbis who are buried there. The most famous is Rabbi Isaac Luria, also known as the Holy Ari, who came to Tzfat in 1530 from Egypt, and was one of the most famous Kabbalists of all times. Next to the Ari is buried his son, Rabbi Moshe Luria, and nearby are the graves of Rabbi Moshe Alsheich, Rabbi Shlomo Alkabetz (author of Lecha Dodi, the song that welcomes Shabbat (the Sabbath), and Rabbi Yosef Caro, author of the Shulhan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law. The cemetery is ancient; some of the oldest graves are those of Hosea the Prophet, Rav Pinchas Ben Yair (father-in-law of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai, composer of the Kabalistic Book of the Zohar in the 1st century A.D.), and, some believe, Chana and her Seven Sons of Hanukkah fame! Dan and I went to the cemetery so I could say prayers for health and "Refuah Shlemah" (complete healing), and for security for the State of Israel at the grave of the Holy Ari, and we found the medieval Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Ari Synagogue, with it's magnificent carved Torah Ark and Kabbalah-motif stained glass windows...
|The graves of the Rabbis, Safed|
|The graves of the Rabbis, Safed|
|The ancient cemetery of Safed|
|Safed cemetery, with the 1948 graves and memorial|
from the War of Independence
|The Ashkenazi Ari Synagogue, Safed|
|The Ark, Ari Synagogue, Safed|
Ari Synagogue, Safed
Lunch was blintzes and pizza at "Art Cafe", a garden cafe overlooking the city and the country...
|Art Cafe, Safed|
...and dinner was a delicious shvarma (grilled lamb or turkey, on the spit) from a "hole in the wall" stand on Kikar HaMaganim in the old city! A pita filled to overflowing with grilled lamb slices, topped with an assortment of salads, peppers, pickles, and sweet-tart Amba, an Indian-Jewish mango sauce that's so yummy it could make cardboard a delicacy! All to the tune of hip Hasidic "Breslaw" music! Then we quenched our thirsts with yummy Mint Lemonade at the cafe across the courtyard...
In the late afternoon we found ourselves in trendy, modern, downtown Safed, and rested our weary feet at a cafe and enjoyed a cappuccino- a.k.a. Cafe Hafouch, or "upside-down coffee"!
|Modern, downtown Safed:|
things that make me smile!
|Garage doors, Safed|
Next: Horseback Riding in the Galilee, Roman ruins in Tiberius, gourmet Nazareth, & a 2000 year old boat!