Synagogues In Safed
Safed is considered by the Jewish people as a city of mysticism and as the city of Kabbalah. During the 2,000 years of exile when Jews lived abroad, outside of the land of Israel, there remained within the borders of the land a few special cities where a minority community of Jews continued to live, work and study. Safed was one of these continuously populated cities and this line of continuity has led to a rich and vibrant Jewish history within the city of Safed.
Much of life in the Jewish areas of Safed revolved around the synagogue and for this reason there are many synagogues, both ancient and modern, within the city. Although Safed has been ravaged by earthquakes throughout the centuries, most of these synagogues have survived and many of them have mysterious legends surrounding their ability to withstand the devastating earthquakes.
One of the most well-known and highly visited synagogues in Safed is the Ashkenazi HaAri Synagogue. This synagogue is the perfect setting to learn about the origins of tikkun olam (the Kabbalistic idea of repairing the world) and about the Kabbalah itself. Also, hear about the Ari and his contribution to Kabbalah and be amazed by the worshippers' story of survival during the War of Independence. If you want to see one of the oldest surviving synagogues in Safed, and the place where the Ari loved to spend his time, then check out the Sephardic HaAri Synagogue.
The Historical Trail
For a bit of historical excitement, make a stop at the Abuhav Synagogue where you can view a Torah scroll from the Middle Ages and see a synagogue that has not one, but three holy arks. Next, visit the Avrutch Synagogue and hear about the miraculous survival of the faithful during the 1837 earthquake that leveled Safed to the ground. See the surviving Holy Ark and be amazed by this tale.
Stops Worth Making
Also worth a visit is the Yosef Caro Synagogue where you can see the famous Shulhan Aruch (The Set Table), which dates back to the middle ages and is still used as the primary source for understanding Jewish religious laws. Also check out the Bana'a Synagogue which is the oldest synagogue in Safed and was first constructed in the 15th century or the Alsheich Synagogue which is untouched from when it was erected in the 16th century as it completely survived intact through all of Safed's earthquakes. For some musical inspiration don't forget to visit the Beirav Synagogue and learn all about Carlebach prayer.