Safed is a city in the Northern District of Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

. Located at an elevation of 900 metres (2,953 ft), Safed is the highest city in the Galilee
Galilee , is a large region in northern Israel which overlaps with much of the administrative North District of the country. Traditionally divided into Upper Galilee , Lower Galilee , and Western Galilee , extending from Dan to the north, at the base of Mount Hermon, along Mount Lebanon to the...

 and of Israel. Due to its high elevation, Safed experiences warm summers and cold, often snowy, winters. Since the sixteenth century, Safed has been considered one of Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

's Four Holy Cities
Four Holy Cities
The Four Holy Cities , is the collective term in Jewish tradition applied to the cities of Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and Safed: "Since the sixteenth century the holiness of Palestine, especially for burial, has been almost wholly transferred to four cities—Jerusalem, Hebron, Tiberias, and...

, along with Jerusalem, Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

 and Tiberias; since that time, the city has remained a center of Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, also known as Jewish mysticism.

Due to its beautiful setting surrounded by pine
Pines are trees in the genus Pinus ,in the family Pinaceae. They make up the monotypic subfamily Pinoideae. There are about 115 species of pine, although different authorities accept between 105 and 125 species.-Etymology:...

 forests and its mild climate, Safed has become a summer holiday resort frequented by Israelis and foreign visitors alike.

Early documentation

According to the Book of Judges
Book of Judges
The Book of Judges is the seventh book of the Hebrew bible and the Christian Old Testament. Its title describes its contents: it contains the history of Biblical judges, divinely inspired prophets whose direct knowledge of Yahweh allows them to act as decision-makers for the Israelites, as...

, the area where Safed is located was assigned to the Tribe of Naphtali
Tribe of Naphtali
The Tribe of Naphtali was one of the Tribes of Israel.Following the completion of the conquest of Canaan by the Israelite tribes after about 1200 BCE, Joshua allocated the land among the twelve tribes...

. Legend has it that Safed was founded by a son of Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 after the Great Flood. The city first appears in Jewish sources in the late Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

. It is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud
Jerusalem Talmud
The Jerusalem Talmud, talmud meaning "instruction", "learning", , is a collection of Rabbinic notes on the 2nd-century Mishnah which was compiled in the Land of Israel during the 4th-5th century. The voluminous text is also known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud de-Eretz Yisrael...

 as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple
Second Temple
The Jewish Second Temple was an important shrine which stood on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem between 516 BCE and 70 CE. It replaced the First Temple which was destroyed in 586 BCE, when the Jewish nation was exiled to Babylon...

 period. Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified Jewish town in the Upper Galilee
Upper Galilee
The Upper Galilee is a geographical-political term in use since the end of the Second Temple period, originally referring to a mountainous area overlapping the present northern Israel and southern Lebanon, its borders being the Litani river in the north, the Mediterranean Sea in the west, the Beit...

 mentioned in the writings of the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus
Titus Flavius Josephus , also called Joseph ben Matityahu , was a 1st-century Romano-Jewish historian and hagiographer of priestly and royal ancestry who recorded Jewish history, with special emphasis on the 1st century AD and the First Jewish–Roman War, which resulted in the Destruction of...

 (Wars 2:573).

Within the Crusader Kingdom and Mamluk Sultanate

In the 12th century, Safed was a fortified city in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem
Kingdom of Jerusalem
The Kingdom of Jerusalem was a Catholic kingdom established in the Levant in 1099 after the First Crusade. The kingdom lasted nearly two hundred years, from 1099 until 1291 when the last remaining possession, Acre, was destroyed by the Mamluks, but its history is divided into two distinct periods....

 known as Saphet. The Knights Hospitaller
Knights Hospitaller
The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta , also known as the Sovereign Military Order of Malta , Order of Malta or Knights of Malta, is a Roman Catholic lay religious order, traditionally of military, chivalrous, noble nature. It is the world's...

 built a castle there. In 1266, the Mamluk
A Mamluk was a soldier of slave origin, who were predominantly Cumans/Kipchaks The "mamluk phenomenon", as David Ayalon dubbed the creation of the specific warrior...

 sultan Baybars wiped out the Christian Templar population and turned it into a Muslim town called Safed or Safat. Samuel ben Samson
Samuel ben Samson
Samuel ben Samson was a rabbi who lived in France and made a pilgrimage to Palestine in 1210, visiting a number of villages and cities there, including Jerusalem. Rabbi Jonathan ha Cohen, said to be "the most influential and wealthy French Jew of his time," was ben Samson's travelling companion,...

 who visited the town in the 13th-century mentions the existence of a Jewish community of at least fifty there. According to al-Dimashqi (who died in Safed in 1327), writing around 1300, Baybars, after levelling the old fortress, built a "round tower and called it Kullah..".The tower is built in three stories. It is provided with provisions, and halls, and magazines. Under the place is a cistern for rain-water, sufficient to supply the garrison of the fortress from year's end to year's end. According to Abu al-Fida, Safed "was a town of medium size". It has a very strongly built castle, which dominates the Lake of Tabariyyah. There are underground watercourses, which bring drinking-water up to the castle-gate...Its suburbs cover three hills... Since the place was conquered by Al Malik Adh Dhahir from the Franks
The Crusades were a series of religious wars, blessed by the Pope and the Catholic Church with the main goal of restoring Christian access to the holy places in and near Jerusalem...

, it has been made the central station for the troops who guard all the coast-towns of that district."

Jewish center in the Ottoman period

Safed rose to fame in the 16th century as a center of Kabbalah
Kabbalah/Kabala is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the esoteric aspect of Rabbinic Judaism. It was systematized in 11th-13th century Hachmei Provence and Spain, and again after the Expulsion from Spain, in 16th century Ottoman Palestine...

, or Jewish mysticism.
Under the Ottomans, Safed was the capital of the sanjak of Safed, which encompassed much of the Galillee and extended to the Mediterranean coast. This sanjak was part of the Eyalet of Damascus until 1660, when it was united with the sanjak of Sidon into a separate eyalet
Sidon Province, Ottoman Empire
The Eyalet of Sidon was an eyalet of the Ottoman Empire. In the 19th century, the eyalet extended from the border with Egypt to the Bay of Kesrouan, including the Plain of Falastin , the Jezreel Valley, and the hilly region of Galilee.Depending on the location of its capital, it was also known as...

, of which it was briefly the capital. Finally, from the mid-19th century it was part of the vilayet of Sidon
Sidon or Saïda is the third-largest city in Lebanon. It is located in the South Governorate of Lebanon, on the Mediterranean coast, about 40 km north of Tyre and 40 km south of the capital Beirut. In Genesis, Sidon is the son of Canaan the grandson of Noah...

. The orthodox Sunni courts arbitrated over cases in 'Akbara
Akbara was a Palestinian village, located 2.5 kilometres south of Safad, which was depopulated in 1948.- Location :The village of 'Akbara was situated 2.5 km south of Safad, along the two sides of a deep wadi that ran north-south. Southeast of the village lay Khirbat al-Uqayba, identified as...

, Ein al-Zeitun
Ein al-Zeitun
Ein al-Zeitun, also spelled Ein Zaytun, Ein ez-Zeitun, Ain al-Zaytun or Ain el-Zeitun, was a Palestinian Arab village, located north of Safad in the Upper Galilee. In 1945, the village had a population of 820 inhabitants and a total land area of 1,100 dunams. Ein al-Zeitun was entirely Muslim...

 and as far away as Mejdel Islim. In 1553-4, the population consisted of 1,121 Muslim households, 222 Muslim bachelors, 54 Muslim religious leaders, 716 Jewish households, 56 Jewish bachelors, and 9 disabled persons. A Hebrew printing press was established in Safed in 1577 by Eliezer Ashkenazi and his son, Isaac of Prague. It was the first press in the whole of the Ottoman Empire
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

. In 1584, there were 32 synagogues registered in the town.
After the expulsion of the Islamic rule from Spain during the reconquista
The Reconquista was a period of almost 800 years in the Middle Ages during which several Christian kingdoms succeeded in retaking the Muslim-controlled areas of the Iberian Peninsula broadly known as Al-Andalus...

 which ended by 1492, many prominent rabbi
In Judaism, a rabbi is a teacher of Torah. This title derives from the Hebrew word רבי , meaning "My Master" , which is the way a student would address a master of Torah...

s found their way to Safed, among them the Kabbalists Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria
Isaac Luria , also called Yitzhak Ben Shlomo Ashkenazi acronym "The Ari" "Ari-Hakadosh", or "Arizal", meaning "The Lion", was a foremost rabbi and Jewish mystic in the community of Safed in the Galilee region of Ottoman Palestine...

 and Moshe Kordovero; Joseph Caro, the author of the Shulchan Aruch
Shulchan Aruch
The Shulchan Aruch also known as the Code of Jewish Law, is the most authoritative legal code of Judaism. It was authored in Safed, Israel, by Yosef Karo in 1563 and published in Venice two years later...

 and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz
Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz
Shlomo ha-Levi Alkabetz, also spelt Alqabitz, Alqabes; was a rabbi, kabbalist and poet perhaps best known for his composition of the song Lecha Dodi; sources differ as to when he wrote it .- Biography :Alkabetz studied Torah under Rabbi Yosef Taitatzak...

, composer of the Sabbath
Shabbat is the seventh day of the Jewish week and a day of rest in Judaism. Shabbat is observed from a few minutes before sunset on Friday evening until a few minutes after when one would expect to be able to see three stars in the sky on Saturday night. The exact times, therefore, differ from...

 hymn "Lecha Dodi". The influx of Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews
Sephardi Jews is a general term referring to the descendants of the Jews who lived in the Iberian Peninsula before their expulsion in the Spanish Inquisition. It can also refer to those who use a Sephardic style of liturgy or would otherwise define themselves in terms of the Jewish customs and...

—reaching its peak under the rule of Sultans Suleiman I
Suleiman the Magnificent
Suleiman I was the tenth and longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, from 1520 to his death in 1566. He is known in the West as Suleiman the Magnificent and in the East, as "The Lawgiver" , for his complete reconstruction of the Ottoman legal system...

 and Selim II
Selim II
Selim II Sarkhosh Hashoink , also known as "Selim the Sot " or "Selim the Drunkard"; and as "Sarı Selim" or "Selim the Blond", was the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire from 1566 until his death in 1574.-Early years:He was born in Constantinople a son of Suleiman the...

 —made Safed a global center for Jewish learning and a regional center for trade throughout 15th and 16th centuries. The Kurdish
Kurdish people
The Kurdish people, or Kurds , are an Iranian people native to the Middle East, mostly inhabiting a region known as Kurdistan, which includes adjacent parts of Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey...

 quarter was established in the Middle Ages and continued through to the 19th century.

Over the course of the seventeenth century, Jewish settlements of Galilee had declined economically and demographically, with Safed being no exception. In around 1625, Quaresmius
Franciscus Quaresmius
Franciscus Quaresmius was an Italian writer and Orientalist.-Life:Quaresmius was born at Lodi. His father was the nobleman Alberto Quaresmi and his mother Laura Papa. At an early age he was enrolled among the Franciscan Observantines at Mantua...

 spoke of the town being inhabited "chiefly by Hebrews, who had their synagogues and schools, and for whose sustenance contributions were made by the Jews in other parts of the world." In 1628, the city fell to the Druze and five years later was retaken by Ottomans. In 1660, in the turmoil following the death of Mulhim Ma'an, the Druze destroyed Safed and Tiberias
1660 destruction of Tiberias
The 1660 destruction of Tiberias occurred during Druze power struggle in the Galilee. The destruction of Tiberias by the Druze resulted in abandonment of the city by its Jewish community, until it was rebuilt by Daher el-Omar in early eighteenth century....

, with only a few of the former Jewish residents returning to Safed by 1662. As nearby Tiberias remained desolate for several decades, Safed gained the key position among Galilean Jewish communities. In 1665, the Sabbatai Sevi movement is said to have arrived to the town.

An outbreak of plague decimated the population in 1742 and the Near East earthquake of 1759
Near East earthquake of 1759
The Near East earthquake of 1759 was a devastating earthquake that shook a wide region in November, 1759.-See also:Historical earthquakes...

 left the city in ruins. An influx Russian Jews in 1776 and 1781, and of Lithuanian Jews of the Perushim
The Perushim were disciples of the Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Elijah ben Solomon Zalman, who left Lithuania at the beginning of the 19th century to settle in the Land of Israel, then under Ottoman rule...

 in 1809 and 1810, reinvigorated the community.
In 1812, another plague killed 80% of the Jewish population, and in 1819 the remaining Jewish residents were held for ransom by Abdullah Pasha
Abdullah Pasha
Abdullah Pasha or Abdullah Kölemen was an Ottoman general in the First Balkan War, notable as the Ottoman commander in the Battle of Kirk Kilisse in 1912, the Battle of Lule Burgas, and the Battle of Adrianople in which the Ottoman forces were defeated by the Bulgarians.-External links:* * * * *...

, the governor of Acre
Acre, Israel
Acre , is a city in the Western Galilee region of northern Israel at the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. Acre is one of the oldest continuously inhabited sites in the country....

. During the period of Egyptian domination, the city experienced a severe decline, with the Jewish community hit particularly hard. In the 1834 Safed Great Plunder
Safed plunder
The Safed Plunder or Safed Great Plunder was a large scale looting and massacre of Safed's Jewish population, that took place in 1834 in Safed Galilee, during the events of the Arab revolt against Ibrahim Pasha of Egypt.-Background:...

, much of the Jewish quarter was destroyed by rebel Arabs, who plundered the city for many weeks. The Galilee earthquake of 1837
Galilee earthquake of 1837
The Galilee earthquake of 1837, often called the Safed earthquake, was a devastating earthquake that shook the Galilee on January 1, 1837.-Impact:...

 killed 2,158 inhabitants, of which 1507 were Ottoman subjects, Muslim or Jewish. The northern, Jewish, section of the town was almost entirely destroyed, while the southern, Moslem, section suffered far less damage. In 1838, the Druze
The Druze are an esoteric, monotheistic religious community, found primarily in Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, which emerged during the 11th century from Ismailism. The Druze have an eclectic set of beliefs that incorporate several elements from Abrahamic religions, Gnosticism, Neoplatonism...

 rebels robbed the city
1838 Druze massacre of Safed
The 1838 Druze massacre of Safed or 1838 Safed massacre was a violent event in Galilee, in which Druze rebels plundered and robbed the town of Safed and caused casualties and losses to Safed's mostly Jewish population.-Pretext:...

 over the course of 3 days, killing many among the Jews.

In 1840, Ottoman rule was restored. In 1847, plague struck Safed again. The Jewish population increased in the last half of the 19th century by immigration from Persia
Qajar dynasty
The Qajar dynasty was an Iranian royal family of Turkic descent who ruled Persia from 1785 to 1925....

, Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, and Algeria
Algeria , officially the People's Democratic Republic of Algeria , also formally referred to as the Democratic and Popular Republic of Algeria, is a country in the Maghreb region of Northwest Africa with Algiers as its capital.In terms of land area, it is the largest country in Africa and the Arab...

. Moses Montefiore
Moses Montefiore
Sir Moses Haim Montefiore, 1st Baronet, Kt was one of the most famous British Jews of the 19th century. Montefiore was a financier, banker, philanthropist and Sheriff of London...

 visited Safed seven times and financed rebuilding of much of the town. However, virtually all the antiquities of Safed were destroyed by earthquakes.

The Qaddura family was a major political force in Safed. At the end of Ottoman rule the family owned 50,000 dunum
Dunum is a municipality in the district of Wittmund, in Lower Saxony, Germany....

s. This included 8 villages around Safed.

British rule

Safed remained a mixed city during the British Mandate for Palestine and ethnic tensions between Jews and Arabs rose during the 1920s. With the eruption of 1929 Palestine riots
1929 Palestine riots
The 1929 Palestine riots, also known as the Western Wall Uprising, the 1929 Massacres, , or the Buraq Uprising , refers to a series of demonstrations and riots in late August 1929 when a long-running dispute between Muslims and Jews over access to the Western Wall in Jerusalem escalated into violence...

, Safed and Hebron became major clash points. In the Safed massacre
1929 Safed massacre
The 1929 Safed pogrom took place on 29 August during the 1929 Palestine riots. Eighteen Jews were killed and eighty wounded. The main Jewish street was looted and burned...

 20 Jewish residents were killed by local Arabs.

By 1948, the city was home to around 1,700 Jews, mostly religious and elderly, as well as some 12,000 Arabs. In February 1948, Muslim Arabs attacked a Jewish bus attempting to reach Safed, and the Jewish quarter of the town came under siege by the Muslims. British forces that were present did not intervene. According to Martin Gilbert
Martin Gilbert
Sir Martin John Gilbert, CBE, PC is a British historian and Fellow of Merton College, University of Oxford. He is the author of over eighty books, including works on the Holocaust and Jewish history...

, food supplies ran short.

"Even water and flour were in desperately short supply. Each day, the Arab attackers drew closer to the heart of the Jewish quarter, systematically blowing up Jewish houses as they pressed in on the central area."

On April 16, the same day that British forces evacuated Safed, 200 local Arab militiamen, supported by over 200 Arab Liberation Army
Arab Liberation Army
The Arab Liberation Army , also translated as Arab Salvation Army, was an army of volunteers from Arab countries led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji...

 soldiers, tried to take over the city's Jewish Quarter. They were repelled by the Jewish garrison, consisting of some 200 Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 fighters, men and women, boosted by a Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

The Palmach
The Palmach was the elite fighting force of the Haganah, the underground army of the Yishuv during the period of the British Mandate of Palestine. The Palmach was established on May 15, 1941...

 ground attack on the Arab section of Safed took place on 6 May, as a part of Operation Yiftah. The first phase of the Palmach plan to capture Safed, was to secure a corridor through the mountains by capturing the Arab village of Birya
Birya , also Biriya, is an agricultural village adjacent to Safed, Israel, under the jurisdiction of the Merom HaGalil Regional Council in the Upper Galilee....

. The Arab Liberation Army
Arab Liberation Army
The Arab Liberation Army , also translated as Arab Salvation Army, was an army of volunteers from Arab countries led by Fawzi al-Qawuqji...

 had plans to take over the whole city on May 10, and in the meantime placed artillery pieces on a hill adjacent to the Jewish quarter and started its shelling.
The Third Battalion failed to take the main objective, the "citadel", but "terrified" the Arab population sufficiently to prompt further flight, as well as urgent appeals for outside help and an effort to obtain a truce.

According to Benny Morris
Benny Morris
Benny Morris is professor of History in the Middle East Studies department of Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in the city of Be'er Sheva, Israel...

, Azzam Pasha
Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam
Abdul Rahman Hassan Azzam ‎ was an Egyptian diplomat, with family origins in Egypt. He served as the first secretary-general of the Arab League between 1945 and 1952.Azzam also had a long career as an ambassador and parliamentarian...

 accurately described the aim of Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet
Plan Dalet, or Plan D, was a plan worked out by the Haganah, a Jewish paramilitary group and the forerunner of the Israel Defense Forces, in Palestine in autumn 1947 to spring 1948. Its purpose is much debated...

, of which Operation Yiftah was a part, when he said:
"The Jews were following a perfectly clear and ruthless plan... They are now drawing [driving?] out the inhabitants of Arab villagers along the Syrian and Lebanese frontiers, particularly places on the roads by which Arab regular forces could enter the country. In particular, Acre and Safed were in very great danger of Jewish occupation. It was obvious that if this continued, the Arab armies would have great difficulty in even entering Palestine after May 15."

However, the appeals for help were ignored, and the British, now less than a week away from the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, also did not intervene against the second -and final- Haganah
Haganah was a Jewish paramilitary organization in what was then the British Mandate of Palestine from 1920 to 1948, which later became the core of the Israel Defense Forces.- Origins :...

 attack, which began on the evening of 9 May, with a mortar barrage on key sites in Safed. Following the barrage, Palmach infantry, in bitter fighting, took the citadel, Beit Shalva and the police fort, Safed's three dominant buildings. Through 10 May, Haganah mortars continued to pound the Arab neighbourhoods, causing fires in the marked area and in the fuel dumps, which exploded. "The Palmah 'intentionally left open the exit routes for the population to "facilitate" their exodus...' " According to Gilbert,
"The Arabs of Safed began to leave, including the commander of the Arab forces, Adib Shishakli
Adib Shishakli
Adib ibn Hasan Shishakli was a Syrian military leader and President of Syria .Born into a notable Syrian-Kurdish family of Hama, Shishakli served with the French Army during the mandate era...

 (later Prime Minister of Syria). With the police fort on Mount Canaan isolated, its defenders withdrew without fighting. The fall of Safed was a blow to Arab morale throughout the region.....With the invasion of Palestine by regular Arab armies believed to be imminent - once the British had finally left in elven or twelve days' time - many Arabs felt that prudence dictated their departure until the Jews had been defeated and they could return to their homes.

Some 12,000 (some estimate 15,000) fled Safed and were a "heavy burden on the Arab war effort". Among them was the family of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas , also known by the kunya Abu Mazen , has been the Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organisation since 11 November 2004 and became President of the Palestinian National Authority on 15 January 2005 on the Fatah ticket.Elected to serve until 9 January 2009, he unilaterally...

. The city was fully under the control of Jewish paramilitary forces by May 11, 1948. On that day Palmach troops secured the now empty Arab quarters, and confiscated "goods that could serve the combat units".

Within the State of Israel

In 1974, 102 Israeli Jewish school children from Safed on a school trip were taken hostage by a Palestinian militant group Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine
The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine is a Palestinian Marxist-Leninist, secular political and military organization. It is also frequently referred to as the Democratic Front, or al-Jabha al-Dimuqratiyah...

 (DFLP) while sleeping in a school in Maalot. In what became known as the Ma'alot massacre
Ma'alot massacre
The Ma'alot massacre was a terrorist attack which included a two-day hostage-taking of 115 people which ended in the deaths of over 25 hostages. It began when three armed Palestinian terrorists of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine entered Israel from Lebanon...

, 22 of these school children were among those killed by the hostage takers. In July 2006, Katyusha rockets fired by Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon hit Safed, killing one man and injuring others. Many residents fled the town. On July 22, four people were injured in a rocket attack.


In 2008, the population of Safed was 32,000. According to CBS
Israel Central Bureau of Statistics
The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics , abbreviated CBS, is an Israeli government office established in 1949 to carry out research and publish statistical data on all aspects of Israeli life, including population, society, economy, industry, education and physical infrastructure.It is headed by a...

 figures in 2001, the ethnic makeup of the city was 99.2% Jewish and non-Arab, with no significant Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 population. 43.2% of the residents were 19 years of age or younger, 13.5% between 20 and 29, 17.1% between 30 and 44, 12.5% from 45 to 59, 3.1% from 60 to 64, and 10.5% 65 years of age or older.


Safed has a Mediterranean climate
Mediterranean climate
A Mediterranean climate is the climate typical of most of the lands in the Mediterranean Basin, and is a particular variety of subtropical climate...

 with hot, dry summers and cold, rainy and occasionally snowy winters. The city receives 682 mm (27 in) of precipitation per year. Summers are rainless and hot with an average high temperature of 29 °C (84 °F) and an average low temperature of 18 °C (64 °F). Winters are cold and wet, and precipitation is occasionally in the form of snow. Winters have an average high temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) and an average low temperature of 5 °C (41 °F). Springs and autumns are pleasant and also wet, but less so than winters.


In December 2001, residents of Safed earned an average of 4,476 shekel
Israeli shekel
The Israeli shekel may refer to the following:*Old Israeli shekel*Israeli new shekel...

s per month, compared to the national average of 6,835 shekels. In 2000, there were 6,450 salaried workers and 523 self-employed. Salaried men had a mean monthly wage of NIS 5,631 (a real change of 10.2%) versus NIS 3,330 for women (a real change of 2.3%). The mean income for the self-employed was NIS 4,843. A total of 425 residents received unemployment benefits and 3,085 received income supplements.


According to CBS, the city has 25 schools and 6,292 students. There are 18 elementary schools with a student population of 3,965, and 11 high schools with a student population of 2,327. 40.8% of Safed's 12th graders were eligible for a matriculation (bagrut
Te'udat Bagrut is the official Israeli matriculation certificate. The bagrut is similar to the British A-levels, German Abitur, French Baccalauréat, and Austrian Matura...

) certificate in 2001.

Aous Shakra
Aous Shakra
Aous Shakra was an existential philosopher and politician. He was the Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. in 1991; a position he held for 6 months.-Education:...

, a 20th century existential philosopher who taught at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, was born in Safed .

One of the unique educational programs that exists in Safed is the Livnot U'Lehibanot
Livnot U'Lehibanot
Livnot U'Lehibanot is an unaffiliated, educational and volunteer organization established in 1980, with campuses in Jerusalem and Tsfat in Israel....

 program of Jewish exploration. The Livnot program provides an open non-denominational atmosphere where young Jewish 20somethings can volunteer, hike and study while exploring their Jewish heritage.


In the 1950s and 1960s, Safed was known as Israel's art capital. The artists colony established in Safed's Old City was a hub of creativity that drew leading artists from around the country, among them Yosl Bergner
Yosl Bergner
Yosl Bergner is an Israeli painter.-Biography:Yosl Bergner was born in Vienna in 1920 and grew up in Warsaw.With rampant anti-Semitism in Europe, the Freeland League for Jewish Territorial Colonisation was formed in July 1935, to search for a potential Jewish homeland...

, Moshe Castel
Moshe Castel
-Biography:Moshe Elazar Castel born in Jerusalem, Ottoman Palestine, in 1909, to Rabbi Yehuda Castel and his wife Rachel. The family was descended from Spanish Jews from Castile who immigrated to the Holy Land after the explusion of the Jews from Spain in 1492. His father was born in Hebron. He...

 and Menachem Shemi. Some of Israel's leading art galleries were located there. In honor of the opening of the Glitzenstein Art Museum in 1953, the artist Mane Katz donated eight of his paintings to the city. During this period, Safed was home to the country's top nightclubs, hosting the debut performances of Naomi Shemer
Naomi Shemer
Naomi Shemer was a leading Israeli songwriter hailed as the "first lady of Israeli song and poetry."-Biography:Naomi Sapir was born on Kvutzat Kinneret, a kibbutz her parents had helped found, on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. In the 1950s she served in the Israeli Defense Force's Nahal...

, Aris San, and other acclaimed singers. Safed has been hailed as the klezmer
Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazic Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim, the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations...

 capital of the world, hosting an annual klezmer festival that attracts top musicians from around the globe. Travelers will find an extensive Tourist Information Centerin the Old Jewish Quarter on Alkabetz Street. The Center provides assistance to tourists who drop in to access information about the center. For travelers who are planning a trip, the tourist center offers Visitors can explore the places of interest, activities and historical sites when visiting Safed. Tourists may find the stories of legends of Safed to expand their understanding of the town and its history. Accommodations provide boarding opportunities for people of all ages and incomes and the list of eateries is extensive in the city.

Twin towns — Sister cities

Safed is twinned with: Toledo
Toledo, Spain
Toledo's Alcázar became renowned in the 19th and 20th centuries as a military academy. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936 its garrison was famously besieged by Republican forces.-Economy:...

, Castile-La Mancha
Castile-La Mancha
Castile-La Mancha is an autonomous community of Spain. Castile-La Mancha is bordered by Castile and León, Madrid, Aragon, Valencia, Murcia, Andalusia, and Extremadura. It is one of the most sparsely populated of Spain's autonomous communities...

, Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 Lille, France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

Palm Beach County, Fl USA

External links

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