Things to do in Zefat (Safed) this Chanukah
If you’re looking for a fun yet meaningful Chanukah (Hanukkah) experience, head to Zefat – The Mystical City, and take your pick of any of the engaging and interactive options
Zefat – Public Candle-Lighting Ceremonies
Shabbat candles are candles lit on Friday evening before sunset to usher in the Jewish Shabbat (Sabbath).
Zefat considered one of the best places to be during Chanukah. Don’t forget to join a nightly Chanukah Candle Tour in Zefat during Chanukah — it will be a memorable experience.
Shvil HaLev and the Tzfat Kabbalah Center offer nightly tours where you can hear stories concerning Chanukah and witness the ages-old traditions of Chanukah candle-lighting in the Old Jewish Quarter.
You can join the Tzfat municipality for public candle-lighting ceremonies with local organizations and agencies. Call 1-800-800-106 for details.
“Festival of Lights”
One of the laws associated with Chanukah is the injunction to “make the miracle public” by placing the Chanukah lights in a public place. In most countries, Jewish families place their menorahs by the windows so that they can be seen from the outside.
But in Israel, especially in Zefat, residents own special glass coverings which are fitted on a box over their menorahs. These boxes, with the menorah inside being lit by then, are hung on hooks next to the doorways and the gates of their homes. These menorahs are generally thought to be quite expensive — thankfully, no one has has ever heard yet of them being stolen. These lights give a beautiful evening scene while walking down the streets in Zefat as you can see them illuminating the doorways and the gates of their homes. Several families still hold the tradition of giving an individual menorah to each child, and many homes are full of the bright Chanukah lights, dazzling up the entire town.
When you visit the HaMeiri Museum you will have an opportunity to learn about the life of Safed’s Jews under Turkish and British rule. The museum is one of the few places in Israel where you can see authentic artifacts of the 1800s and early 1900s while learning about the stories of the community and individuals who lived in the city. During Chanukah you can join one of the museum’s tours which run several times each day, at no additional cost.
A Safed Lights tour with Shvil HaLev — “Path of the Heart” — employs music and storytelling to present the Safed experience in an engaging and entertaining way You can join an evening Chanukah Lights tour on any night where you’ll enjoy a guided musical tour while viewing the menorahs of the city’s residents which are displayed in windows and doorways throughout the lanes and alleys of the Old Jewish Quarter. The Chanukah Lights tour includes stories of Safed’s legends and Chanukah tales as well as a group candle-lighting experience. For reservations, call at 050-7505695.
Dairies of Safed (Zefat or Tzfat)
Another one of the great things to do in Zefat during Chanukah is to visit the town’s old dairies to learn the cheese-making process and sample some of the goat and sheep milk-derived products.
According to a Talmudic source Yehudit — Judith — was a young woman from the city of Bethulia during the Assyrian rule of Israel. She seduced Holofernes, a general, by feeding him cheese dishes which made him sleepy. When Holofernes fell asleep Yehudit decapitated him and brought his head back to Bethulia to rally the townspeople to resist the occupation. To commemorate Yehudith’s act many Jews observe the custom of eating cheese dishes during Chanukah. Two dairies in Safed are open where you can drop in and observe the cheese-making process. You can find samples of the sheep and goats milk products available and buy any of the cheeses or other produces right at the dairy.
- The HaMeiri Dairy produces its sheep milk cheeses from the milk of free-grazing sheep. According to the HaMeiri family the sheep nibble on the herbs and plants of the Safed mountainside and are milked to the accompaniment of soothing music. This, according to the HaMeiris, explains the delicate texture and exquisite taste of the HaMeiri cheeses. On Keren HaYesod Street the HaMeiri Lookout. The HaMeiri dairy suggests that visitors call before they arrive to ascertain when the dairy is actually producing the cheeses. Call at (052) 372-1609.
- Kadosh Dairy was established over 100 years ago by the Kadoshes, a Moroccan family which arrived in Tzfat after having walked from Morocco. The family dairy has been oerating ever since. Kadosh makes both goat and sheep cheeses, labane (a creamy, salty spread with the consistency of yogurt), ice cream and home-cured olives. Chairs and tables are available for visitors who want to enjoy a “laffa” bread with the labana spread, the cheeses or some goatss milk ice cream. Should call first to find out when they’re making the cheeses. Call at (04) 692-0326.
If you’re looking for specific Chanukah activities, go to the Ascent Institute on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th or 5th nights of Chanukah for candle-lighting ceremonies, jam sessions, donut making, meditation and a walking tour of the Chanukah lights which are displayed I windows and doorways throughout the city. Cost is 100 shekels per person which includes all activities including accommodations at the hostel, according to availability. There is a 15% discount for online registration.
Khan of the White Donkey
The Khan of the White Donkey is recognized as the spot for unique musical experiences and their Chanukah concert, with Jah Bless and his Roots Reggae band is indicative of the type of high energy performance that can be found at the Khan. The concert takes place on the 6th night of Chanukah, December 13, 2012. Doors open at 8:30p.m. Jah Bless is a popular Israeli musician and his unique style of music shouldn’t be missed. Entrance is 50 shekels. Food and drinks are served at the bar/restaurant (dairy, kosher, no Kashruth certification).
The International Center of Tzfat Kabbalah offers a Chanukah Lights tour of the Old Jewish Quarter every evening during Chanukah. You’ll walk through the alleyways of the Old City and see the menorahs which burn in each home’s windows and doorways. The tour includes a full tour of Tzfat, klezmer music, a movie about Kabbalah and Tzfat and a candle-lighting ceremony.
Whether you’re religiously observant, moderately so or not at all you’ll enjoy the Hallel service at Tzfat’s Carlebach synagogues. Hallel is the prayer of thanksgiving which is recited each morning of Chanukah during morning prayers. The Beirav follow the tradition of Shlomo Carlebach in which Hallel is sung with musical instruments. Hallel prayers generally begin at about 8:30a.m. and you can come and go as you wish which makes this an easy and engaging service for kids and adults alike. You can bring our own musical instrument and join in as well.
Play ‘n Clay and Pottery Shop
If you’re looking for an indoor activity or simply want to participate in Tzfat’s artist atmosphere and do something creative, the Play ‘n Clay Pottery Shop provides a fun experience which is suitable for individuals, adults, families and children of any age. You’ll have an opportunity to mold clay by hand or work on the pottery wheel to create menorahs, dreidels or any other item that interests you. The Pottery shop requests that you call for an appointment. Call at (052)344-5019.
In the Quiet Space
In the Quiet Space presents a spiritual-behavioral workshop is becoming popular throughout the world. The “MicroCalming” technique enables participants to learn a conditioned relaxation technique that, once learned, will accompany them through stressful situations during the years to come. The Hanukah Workshop “An Experience of Quiet and Light” brings the spirituality of the Chanukah message to channel the light which illuminates the path to individual Blessings. For more information, call at 054-4957528.