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The City of Tzfat in the Gallilee, Israel

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I've spent nearly a month on a pilgramage in the holy city of Tzfat (Saded), in Israel. I rented an apartment that was up on the hill near the Citadel ruins, on top of the old city. I spent every morning davening in ancient synaguages, of which there are several in the city, centered on the 15th and 16th century community largely populated by Sephardi Jews who were explused from Spain with the Spanish Inqusition. Tzfat is one of the most beautiful and special places in the world and it attracts an eclectic group of residents.

The mountain view from Tzfat at sunset

The mountain view from Tzfat at sunset

Aside from the lovely scenery and history, the real beauty of Tzfat is its people. It has several fantastic organizations and warm residents. This would include Ascent of Tzfat, Livnot, and several Yeshivot. Livnot, for example, targets Jewish young adults new to Jewish culture, with programing involving Judiac education, a campus with dormatories, and creative programs that leverage the local lore and history.

What makes the Livnot foundation different is that it is actively involved in the physical development of Tzfat. Tzfat has been destroyed by earthquakes numerous times over the millinium. the last great quake, that killed nearly 4000 people, destroyed much of the housing and left it in ruins. Added to this the battles about the birth of Israel left many empty lots, and homes, with fallen stones all about. Typical old city development means first sorting out ownership of properties, which can include hundreds of individual family members with shares of a property, fending off the locate maffia that exploits this situation to extort property owners with sudden mystery claims of small ownership shares of existing properties, enforced with illegal violence, and then rebuilding. When you get a property, several historical layers exist under you of destroyed structures and arches. Here is Aaron Botzer, showing several of these layers with me. Livnots property runs from the Jewish Artist center to the Abuhav Synagogue complex.

Aaron Botzer showing for Livnot property and ruins

Aaron Botzer showing for Livnot property and ruins

More support for young people is available from the Youth Hostile created by Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, called Ascent. Ascent creates a safe haven and active local for Jewish men and women of a variety of ages. It is a chabad hotbed for missionary work that relentlessly pushes the Tanyah and the Lubavitcher Hasidic message. If you desire such an environemnt then Ascent gives it to you in spades, and it is one of the most effective recruitment tools in the world. It has a legion of volunteers and a full day menu of activities, from barn fires, camp outs, introduction classes to Kabbalah, Shabbos Meals, city tours, and cheap kosher food (Kosher under the supervision of the Cheif Rabbi of Tzfat). Whenever I was bored and needed to stir my soul, I wandered over to see the activities schedule and use the wifi. Midnight Fabregeon (Spiritual bull sessions with adequate wine and beer) were full of warm brotherhood and left me with many friendships.

Ascent Volunteers provide community support
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent
Late Night Sessions at Ascent can go on until the wee hours of the morning

Tzfat also has some of the best wineries in the world. This is a bit of a surprise to run of the mill tourist, but darn the wine is good here, and it is Kosher. In the center of the Jewish Artist Colony one can find the Abouhav Winery down the stairs from the Gallery. Follow the sign and stay for a wine tasting. It is very very impressive and you will take a bottle or two home with you. I spent a few hours talking and ducking the heat in August, drinking a variety of wines and snacking on fruit. The kid who runs this facility is a gem or a person, and great company. Do yourself a favor and spend a few hours with him. Feel at home. Abuhov Winery Tasting Room
Abuhov Winery Tasting Room

Abuhov Winery Tasting Room
Abuhov Winery Tasting Room

Inevitably, everyone ends up in the artist galleries in Tzfat, and for good reason, this city has what might be the healthiest collection of Artists in Israel. There are two sections, one is highly secular, and not so interesting IMO, although it has internationally respected talent. And then there is the Jewish artists who feed on the Gallery, formally known as Yosef Caro/Alkabetz Street. The Gallery is often over run by tourists and birth righters, which is all good. It is anchored on one end by the Safed Candle Factory and the Caro Synagogue on the other end.

In this regard, Tzfat is a living art museum, and I can spend days walking up and down the Gallery looking over works. There is a lot of original works and prints from a variety of artists within in these cubbies, but also quite a bit of original works, by artists who work with in these stalls. Of these, my favorite is Idit Aharon and I own 4 works of hers. This is a wonderful work still in the Gallery which is available. Contact me if you are interested in any of these works.

Idit Aharon - Rooster $5000
Idit Aharon - Rooster $5000
Idit Aharon - Tree of Life $2500
Idit Aharon - Tree of Life $2500
Idit Aharon - Hand $5000
Hand $5000

I picked up a few works from the Gallery which are currently on display. If you are interested in any of them, you can contact me at ruben@mrbrklyn.com
Idit Aharon - Creation
Idit Aharon - Creation $5000

Idit Aharon - Creation
Idit Aharon - Bronze Pair $5000

Idit Aharon - Pair of paintings
Idit Aharon

Idit Aharon - Rimon Tree
Idit Aharon - Rimon Tree $3000

Idit Aharon - Safed Alley Tree
Idit Aharon - Safed Alley $3000

Blue Women
Ruth Slos - Blue Women $8000

Shalom of Tzfat
Shalom of Tzfat $10,000