Zefat

Overview

Introduction

The famous and mystical city of Zefat, Israel, also known as Safed, is set high in hills that are often shrouded in fog. It's beautiful and old, the birthplace of kabbalah (Jewish mysticism) and host to a large artists' colony. The combination of galleries and ancient synagogues is an aesthetic and spiritual treat.

It's one of the most conservative towns in Israel, and Orthodox Jews are serious about observing the Sabbath: Shops and businesses are shuttered, and cars are not driven, so the streets are eerily empty of traffic and most people stay indoors. A few art galleries run by foreigners stay open.

Visit the town's cemetery, where some of the most revered rabbis in the history of Judaism are buried beneath pale-blue monuments. An Ethiopian Folk Art Gallery includes works by some recent immigrants to Israel.

On a hill outside the city are the ruins of a Crusader's castle.

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