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Safed

SAFED

city located in the upper galilee region of israel.

Situated atop a mountain at an elevation of 2,780 feet (848 m), Safed (Hebrew, Tzfat; Arabic, Safad ) is 25 miles (40 km) north of Tiberias and 30 miles (48 km) east of Acre. Safed is not mentioned in the Bible but was cited by the Roman historian Flavius Josephus as one of the cities he fortified. The Crusaders built a fortress in Safed, and the Mamluks made it an administrative center. Safed was one of the hills from which fires were built to signal the beginning of the lunar cycle and festivals. In the sixteenth century Joseph Karo, the author of the legal rabbinical work Shulhan Arukh (The set table), and Isaac Luria, founder of practical kabbala, turned Safed into a center for Jewish mysticism. In the late eighteenth century two large groups of Jews emigrated to Safed: Hasidim and their detractors, the followers of Rabbi Elijah, the Gaon of Vilnius. In 1837 an earthquake struck the area, killing 5,000.

In 1929, at a time when riots were breaking out throughout Palestine, Arabs attacked and destroyed the Jewish quarter of Safed; it was rebuilt in the 1930s. At the outbreak of the ArabIsrael War of 1948, the Jewish population in the city numbered only 2,000 out of a total of 12,000 inhabitants. When the British evacuated their position in Safed in April 1948, Arab forces attacked. Divisions of the Palmah counterattacked on 10 May 1948, putting to rout the Arab military units and the Arab population. Today the city is a center for artists and mystics.

see also arabisrael war (1948); hasidim; palmah.


Bibliography


Rossoff, Dovid. Safed: The Mystical City. Spring Valley, NY, 1991.

bryan daves

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Safed

Safed: see Zefat, Israel.

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