✈ Keeping Kosher in Tzfat (Safed), Israel


Last updated: December 6, 2012

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Contributed by: Laurie Rappeport | Author resides in Tzfat

Kosher Info: Over the past 30 years the religious population of the city has increased along with tourists who expect to find high quality kosher food in the city. These days there are a wide range of kosher restaurants from which to choose.

One of the oldest and best known dairy restaurants is the Tree of Life, a health food restaurant located in Kikar HaMeginim in the center of Tzfat's Old Jewish Quarter. Kikar HaMeginim — Defender's Square — was once the headquarters of the pre-State Haganah fighters who liberated Safed during the War of Independence. Today it's the heart of the Old City where tourists can sit in the square and watch Hassidic schoolchildren, yeshivah students, Israeli soldiers, housewives and other locals as they run back and forth, taking care of daily chores and obligations.

The Tree of Life is a vegetarian restaurant which serves hearty soups, whole grain breads, muffins, delicious quiches, rice and curries, whole wheat pizza, calazones, pasta dishes and fruit shakes. The Tree of Life opens mid-morning and remains open until late at night. There are chairs and tables inside the restaurant but most patrons prefer to sit outside and enjoy the character of the city as they eat their meal.

  • Kikar HaMeginim, Old Jewish Quarter, Safed
  • Dairy — Mehadrin Tzfat Rabbinute
  • 050-696 0239

 

The HaAri 8 is the perfect restaurant for visitors who are looking for an elegant meat restaurant with the ambiance of Old Tzfat. HaAri 8 is located on HaAri Street, under the Carmel Hotel along the northern edge of the Old Jewish Quarter. The restaurant opens at 10:00 and serves a traditional Israeli breakfast of diced cucumber and tomato salad along with a choice of egg and vegetable dishes and delicious breads and rolls.  Lunches and dinners include snitzels, roast chicken, steaks and even burgers and fries. Vegetarian dishes are available as well as a children's menu.

  • Rehov HaAri 8, Safed
  • Meat — Mehadrin Tzfat Rabbinute
  • 04 692 0033

 

Gan Eden — is a moderately-priced dairy restaurant located outside of the center of town but it is easily accessible from the Old City area by bus or a $5 cab ride. The restaurant is a Safed institution which serves homemade quiches, pastas and a wide range of unique salads using fresh produce and Israeli products. In addition to the generous dairy dishes, homemade breads and fresh pasta platters, diners can enjoy some of the local fresh fish from Northern Israel's fish ponds. Guests can sit indoors in the cozy restaurant or may enjoy their meal on the restaurant's veranda. Gan Eden is owned and managed by the Bringel family who also run the popular Isadora Café which is located right next to the Khan of the White Donkey in Safed's Artist Quarter. The Isadora Café is an outdoor café and serves the same menu as Gan Eden. Both have a Tzfat rabbinate hechsher.

  • Rehov Gdud HaSlishi, Safed
  • Dairy — Tzfat Rabbinute
  • 04 697 2434

There are also a wide variety of kosher carry-outs where visitors can get kosher food for Shabbat or holidays to eat in a guest house.

Tourist Info:

The majority of the historical, religious and cultural tourist sites are located in the Old Jewish Quarter of the city. There are several old synagogues including the Yosef Caro, the Ari Ashkanazi, the Ari Sepharadi and the Abuhav. Many visitors walk down to the old cemetery where the graves of the the Ari, Rabbi Caro, Rabbi Alkabetz, Rabbi Alsheich, Rabbi Cordevero and others are located.

There are two dairies in the Old City, Kadosh and HaMeiri, where tourists can see the process of cheese-making. A self-guided tour is available for smartphone users which guides them from site to site with the explanations and stories that provide an overview about the city. The tour is also available online to view before a visit. The tour is free.  

Tzfat's Artist galleries and its artists community are well-known and expanding, with new galleries opening to display Judaica, landscapes, Kabbalistic art + other ceramics, sculptures, and general art. To artists who incorporate Kabbalistic elements into their art are  Avraham Lowenthal  and  Dovid Friedman while Daniel Flatauer expresses the "Kabbalah of Pottery" through his work in shaping clay.

The Safed Candles store displays a wide range of candles which can be used for various Jewish rituals as well as wax sculptures of Biblical scenes.

Jewish Info:

There are dozens of synagogues throughout the Old Jewish Quarter, Artists Quarter and new neighborhoods with minyans at all times of the day and night. The Abuhav synagogue has a "netz" minyan at 5:00a.m. every morning and the Sanz synagogue, on Tarpat Street in the Old City run consecutive minyans throughout the day for shaharit, mincha and ma'ariv.

There are two main mikvas in the Old City, one at the Sanz synagogue and a second one at the Breslev synagogue. Both have large facilities for men, during the daytime, and for women in the evening hours. Other mikves are located throughout the new neighborhoods.

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  • Melinda Strauss

    Man, I can’t wait to go to Israel so I can print out all of your posts on keeping kosher in Israel!!! Love the tourist guide too.