Sunday, August 21, 2016

A Tour of Safed – Galleries, Winery, Dairy and Old Houses

A tour of Safed is more than synagogues and the Safed market. We came to Safed for the Klezmer Festival and took a tour of safed – galleries, winery, dairy, old houses and interesting people! when you plan to get to Safed – plan for more than a day there’s so much to do there!
A Tour of Safed – Galleries, Winery, Dairy and Old Houses

Here are some of the places we visited in our tour of Safed.
Sheva Chaya Glassblowing Studio
Sheva Chaya’s glassblowing studio has a lively gallery with beautiful glass art. Much of it is Jewish, such as Mezuzot and other Jewish artifacts, including useful Jewish art articles and for-decoration. The studio is open for demonstration of glass blowing (10 NIS per person). A visit to the studio is an experience. There is something in glass art that is really beautiful, the colors, shapes and refraction of light makes glass art stunning! The demonstration of the art making is magical – the powerful flame of over 1000 c degrees melts the glass rod and with the technique forms the artwork. In the demonstration the artist (in 2 weeks residency at the studio) made a marble with the Star of David inside.
Information: Sheva Chaya, 7 Tet-Vav Street, Tzfat, Israel

Tzfat (Safed) Winery
The windery is a family boutique winery producing about 10,000 bottles of wine a year – white, red, and Port.
Tzfat Winery was established by Moshe and Keren Alon, who welcomed us at the winery located in an ancient cellar. Moshe was a diamond merchant in Thailand who converted orthodox 20 years ago. He did ‘aliya’ and came to Safed 20 and looked for a good wine to drink. When he couldn’t find any good wine he started learning how to make wine himself. In 2004 together with Keren, the family planted a vineyard facing Meron mountain with four types of grapes – two white and two red: Gewurztraminer, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Viognier.
We tasted three wines at the Winery (they only make red wines this year because of the Shnat Shmita):
Cabernet Sauvignon 2013 – young wine aged in stainless steel barrels with Oak chips two months – a young and light wine.  Merlot 2012 aged, and an excellent Port style wine that the winery makes in different blends (sweet and excellent!).
The winery is located in an ancient cellar, 600 years old. The winery is open for visits. The visit costs 10 NIS for visitors 6 and up. The adults taste 3 wines and the children experience bottling and climbing into an empty wine tank.
Information: Tzfat Boutique Winery, 48 Alkabetz st. Tzfat, Israel open daily weekdays 10-7pm.

Hameiri Dairy
Hameiri Tsfat Dairy is a boutique dairy with a family an extraordinary family story going back almost 200 years ago. The dairy was established 179 years ago when Meir Hameiri came to Safed to help reconstruct the city that was ruined in the big earthquake. Very quickly he realized that he cannot practice his profession as jeweler in ruined Safed (nobody had any money) so he decided to make cheeses. He also started raising sheep. The dairy is active and working until today in the building that he bought and rebuilt from ruins when he came to Israel. They make two types of cheeses: Brinza and Safed cheese, both handmade and very salty (in the old days there were no refrigerators and the salt was used as preservative). The cheeses are very tasty! You can buy them here and in boutique stores around Israel. The visit includes a movie about the family, a breathtaking story of the family and a visit to the dairy on the lower level where a spring was found!
The dairy is open for visits every Friday at noon. The visit takes around 45 minutes and includes cheese tasting. It costs 20 NIS for adult and 15 NIS for children.
Information: Hameiri Cheese, Keren Hayesod st. Tsfat

Safed Spirit (Ruach Tsfat)
Tsfat Spirit is a local organization that offers guided tours of Safed (like our tour of Safed) with the purpose of brining people to Safed to learn about the Jewish spirit. They offer tours at a fair price (only 600 NIS for up to 40 people), which combine attractions, artists, musical players and street theatre. Their aim is to expose Safed to the visitors and give work to the residents of Safed. Among the places that they visit are the Jewish Closet and the Gallery of Sefadic art.
The Jewish Closet – inspired by the extraordinary dress code in Safed, that is comprised of Jewish customary outfits that go back in time and are very versatile, Or Lulu established the Jewish Closet – a place to learn about Jewish dress code in different time and places, origins, and parishes. The visitors have the opportunity to try on different clothes. This is quite fun! Here are two members of our group in some unique dresses.

The Gallery of Safadic Art – on the upper floor behind the Jewish Closet, a gallery and studio is located. The gallery is showing Shraga Shmidler’s artwork, who tells the visitors about the inspiration for his paintings and the secret of the letters in Jewish Kabala. The gallery is really nice; the paintings displayed in the ancient Safed brick room are beautiful. It should be an interesting experience to meet Shraga, we did not have the chance.

Safed Spirit offer free tours of Safed like this tour of Safed, available via the municipality travel site.
Information: office@tsfat.org.il
Abbo House
Abbo House is the old house of Rabbi Shmuel Abbo. Rabbi Abbo arrived to Safed 200 years ago. Since 1817 he was an active figure in Safed’s community. He purchased land for the community with the help of his friend from Algeria when Jews were not allowed to own land in Israel. He raised funds for the community and when nominated as the French console he helped those who needed help with the Ottoman authorities. By 1833 he was already considered as one of the respectable figures of the community and cooperated with the Ashkenazi community. The community awarded him a bible as present. In 1837, after the earthquake he took into his house widows and orphans, helped to reconstructed synagogues, and helped everyone in need in the Safed community.
Each evening of Lag Baomer, the bible of Rabbi Abbo is taken to the holy graves around Safed in a big parade from Abbo’s house to Meron Mountain. Rafael Abbo, his descendent tells us the story of Rabbi Abbo and the family that continued his community giving along generations after him. Rafael is working to turn the house into a museum. Until then, you are welcome to the parade every year in Lag Baomer.
Information: Abbo House, Abbo Street, Safed

Beit Hakahal
Beit Hakahal is a national heritage site. The house used to serve as a community center for the Sephardic community in the 16th century. It housed a bakery, a heated mikve, and much more.
The house, as well as the Safed information center was purchased by Livnot U’Lehibanot association in 1980. Then, a whole underground city was discovered under the land with 16 rooms, 8 wells, a heated Mikve, and much more.
The house offers activities, including 1-2 hours workshops – Mabala, candles making, drawing, baking Chalah, etc. Some of the activities are for Bar/Bat Mizva. There’s also a tour of the grounds in which the visitors walk from the Visitors center down in tunnels to the lower level where the remains of the old Safed were discovered.
Information: Livnot U’Lehibanot

After the tour of Safed old city and all these interesting places, we went to the newer part of Safed to the opening event of the Klezmer Festival. The festival takes place each year in August. The center of town turns into pedestrian area with live concerts and an open market!

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