Tzfat is one of the four holy cities to Jews in Israel. Along with Jerusalem (because, well, it is Jerusalem – the City of David and site of the First and Second Temples), Hebron (where the Patriarchs are buried) and and Tiberias (where the Jerusalem Talmud was written – yes, Tiberias, not Jerusalem. Romans would not let Jews live in Jerusalem) Tzfat is famous for Kabbalah which is not Jewish mysticism.
So what is Kabbalah?
“Kabbalah is the theology of the Jewish people; it is the way Judaism understands God and the relationship between God and the world…Kabbalah has become a distinct system of ideas, beliefs, technical terminology, and values with its own history, great personalities, controversies, and vocabulary.. (and) has always been an integral part of Jewish religious and spiritual life.” – Rabbi Arthur Kurzweil.
Two “must sees” in Tzfat are the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue and the Abuhav Synagogue. Of course, getting around Tzfat is easier said than done. Parking has always been a problem and following the signs to the Jewish Quarter or the Old City is a recipe for disaster. Take my advise and hire a tour guide or go on an organized tour.
However, if you do insist on driving yourself, park the car on Jerusalem Street. This is a circular street which ambulates around the very top of the city. Park the car near the college and lots of luck finding a spot!
Walk to Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochi Street and enter. About 100 yards to your left you will find David Freedman’s Kabbalah Art Gallery. If I were to pick on artist to visit in Tzfat, he is it.
David is a an artist and Kabbalist. He hails from Denver, Colorado and you will enjoy his easy-going manner as he explains his art.
Unlike other shops, David is the artist and sells his work directly.