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December 15, 1978 - Image 27

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-12-15

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Mystical History of Safed Is Preserved
in Remains of Ancient Synagogues There'

mystic who fathered the
Kabalist movement.
Time stands still in Safed, Ari-Kodesh, the Holy
a weathered city of an- Ark, is resplendent with
tiquity; with its crooked, intricately carved fruit:
Oriental alleyways and apples, pears,fat clusters
labyrinths of winding, cob- of grapes. Painted col-
' bled streets. It is an ancient umns are crowned by
bastion of Jewish schol- elaborate carvings. A
arship and mysticism, majestic chandelier
whose houses are perched hangs from 'the domed,
precariously one atop an- vaulted ceiling in this
other, stitching a fairy tale "Hall of Sacred Apples."
tapestry of style and sym-
Extensive reconstruction
was necessary after the
"In Safed," it was said, "is 1837 earthquake in which
the purest air of the Holy 4,000 people were killed.
Land and there is not a Ha'ari Hasephardi, which
place where_ they under- withstood the devastation of
stand better the profun- the earthquake, has beauti-
dities and the secrets, of the fully carved doors, served as
Holy Torah."
a Hagana barricade, and is
It was in Safed in-the year adjacent to the old cemet-
66 that Josephus Flavius, ery, the resting place of its
then known as Ben Mat- saintly, medieval scholars.
tatia, led the Jewish rebels
in their war against the
At nearby Mount Meron,
Romans and fortified the. Israel's highest peak, are
town. In this period, Galilee ruins of a synagogue from
had the ra.rgest Jewish the Third Century, quarried
population in Palestine. It out of a cliff. Two huge-
was here that the priestly, blocks of stone support a
families settled after the de- central slab, whose fall, it is
struction of the Temple.
believed, heralds the advent
Within the artists' col- of the Messiah.
ony, occupying the old
Every year at Meron a
Arab quarter, creativity pilgrimage takes place to
is at its optimum. The the tomb of Rabbi Shimon, a
area abounds in splendid second Century scholar.
virtuosity —more than 40 Tl(ousands congregate from
resident painters, em- every region, an observance
pjoying various media: unbroken for 400 years.
oils, lithographs, water Just before nightfall the
colors, ceramics.
celebration starts with
Rehov Yerushalayim prayers in the shrine and
runs the length of the city, dancing in the courtyard of
circling the top of Safed. the tomb. Throughout the
Citadel Hill, at the center, night, bonfires are kindled.
has been converted into a Following .a kabalist tradi-
public park. From its ter- tion, little boys got their
raced garden is an over-
whelming panorama of the
Galilee down to Lake
Korczak Memorial
Tiberias. Ancient pine trees
, and twisting paths accom-
pany the climb up to Givat
HaMetzuda, built over the
ruins of the Crusaders' for-
tress, which rests on the
foundation Josephus laid,
almost 2,000 years ago.

(Copyright 1978, JTA, Inc.)


On the summit is a simple
war memorial, com-
memorating a , miracle, the
famous "Davidka," the mor-
tar which tricked the Arabs
into believing the Jews had
a secret weapon during the
War of Independence.
Against insurmountable
odds, 130 Palmach com-
mandos infiltrated Arab
lines and drove the enemy
Synagogues stem from
mat.he Middle Ages, although
any have been rebuilt in
part, because of repeated
This monument to
earthquake-.damage. Down
a narrow lane is the Janusz Korczak, who
sanctuary of Joseph Caro, was martyred with his
where he compiled the schoolchildren by the
Shulkhan Arukh, the Nazis, was unveiled re-
codification of Jewish law cently at the Yad Vashem
from 1555 to 1563. Of sim- Holocaust memorial in
ple design, the bima is Jerusalem.
enclosed by a wooden rail-
ing on floor level. Congreg- Call from Home
ants sit cross-legged on
cloth-covered couches
against walls of delicate Cleveland Aliya Council
blue. Women are segre- has arranged for former
gated behind a lace curtain. Cleveland residents now
Two of the synagogues liviNg in Israel to send free
are named for Rabbi telex messages to their
Isaac Luria, the famed families in Cleveland.

first; haircut under a tre-
mendous tree and the clip-
pings are ceremoniously
cast into the flames.

From earliest times,
Safed has figured promi-
nently in the chronicles
of the land. Geniza
documents confirm the
existence of a Jewish
community at the begin-
ning of the 11th Century.
In 1481, a visitor from
Italy, Joseph de Mon-
tagna, said about Safed,
"It is a pleasant commu-
nity of 300 househol-
At the start of the 16th
Century, which initiated
Ottoman rule, Safed be-
came the spiritual center of
the, country Aid of Judaism.
Fdllowing thlir expulsion
from Spain, multitudes of
Jews fotind asyluin here.
They arrived, with business
acumen and religious devo-
"L'Cha Dodi," the song. of
greeting to the Sabbath
Queen, a refrain that still
forms part of services, was
composed here by Rabbi
Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz.
The firstl printing press in
Asia Minor was established
in Safed by a father and son
from Prague who printed
the Book of Esther in 1577.
In the early 1700s, Polish
Jews, fleeing the persecu-
tion of the Cossacks, sought
refuge here.
Miraculously, despite
catastrophic assault by man
and nature, Safed has sur-
vived. In this town of
twisted back alleys and
venerable houses of worship

Friday, December 22, 1978 27

Wishing All Our
Friends & Customers


-where meandering lanes
and pathways climb up and
down with no logic or direc-
tion, one senses a spiritual
alliance with the past — the
invincible tongues of the
Old Testament, of the
prophets — Moses and
Elija, of Mica and Zecharia.





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