Saturday, September 24, 2011

Regards from Safed

Safed (Tzfat - in hebrew) is a small but special town located in the mountains, in northern Israel. It is a place where the spiritual meets the physical. It takes about four hours from my home to get there by bus , but the trip is very rewarding.

The town is blessed with mountain good air, picturesque landscape, and a highly spiritual and mystical atmosphere. It has historic sites like the Citadel at the top of the city with ruins dating back to the Crusaders and Mamluks, an artists' colony of stone houses in which artists live and work, art exhibitions , a variety of hotels and guest houses to accomodate the domestic and foreign tourists , shopping areas, healthy living centers.

shopping street

The "Artists' Quarter" in the old town is a major attraction of Safed. The cobbled narrow lanes, the stone houses with their artistic doors and windows, and the various art galleries - are very inviting to its visitors.

cobbled alley in the Artists' Quarter

ceramic work of art on the outer wall of a house

artistic door

tourists in the galleries' area

Safed is considered one of the four holy cities of Israel together with Jeruusalem, Hebron and Bnei-Brak. It has lots of synagogues, holy sites, religious institutions , and ,of course, a significant religious population.

The city is famous for the graves of 'tzadikim' (righteous holy people) whose spirits are believed to protect the city (It's Safe in Safed, as one would say).

This time I visited only the cemetery where my favorite tzadik ,rabbi Abraham Fish, and his wife rest in peace.
It is before the High Holidays when we ask for a good New Year. Praying by the tzadik's grave is always a great privilege, especially at this time of the year.

religios pupils heading to the graves

On the way out of Safed down to the main road, I took two pictures that I think are very beautiful and I hope , dear readers, you'll like them too: one includes a distant patch of blue which is the Sea of Galilee (Lake Kineret) seen from above , and the other shows the sun setting behind the mountains.

Sea of Galilee in the background


See you again next year, dear Tzfat!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Forest of Martyrs and ..Picnics

Two months ago I attended a commemorative event in one of the Martyrs' Forests near Jerusalem. People had gathered there in the early afternoon hours for a ceremony that was planned to start at 16:oo pm. Each participant (there were about two hundred people) was offered a new white cotton cap and a red fresh rose. The white of the caps and of the plastic chairs facing the stage of honor, the red of the roses, the yellow of the scorching sun, and the green of the trees around - that was quite a sight!

surrounding trees

offering flowers to participants

The spot , named the 'Dorohoi woodland' (Dorohoi - a city and former county in north-east Romania) is dominated by a six-column monument - symbol of the six little towns of Dorohoi county whose Jewish population has undergone persecutions during the Holocaust.

the six-column stone monument

young boy at the ceremony

romanian ambassador delivering a speech

Not far from this memorial, there are some long wooden tables and benches - indication that the spot is a popular place for picnics and recreation.

Life with its little pleasures goes on, parallel to what the monument stands for, namely, martyrdom.

long wooden table and benches