|Meaning:||Lookout (from the Hebrew root tzafa)|
|Altoffsp:||Tsfat, Tzefat, Zfat,|
|Mayor:||Yishai Maimon (Ilan Shohat elected)|
|Pushpin Map:||Israel north haifa|
Safed (Hebrew: צְפַת, Tzfat; Arabic: صفد, Ṣafad) is a city in the Northern District of Israel and a center for Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. At an elevation of 800 meters (2,660 feet) above sea level, Safed is the highest city in the Galilee.
According to the Book of Judges, the region was assigned to the tribe of Naftali.  The city of Safed itself first appears in Jewish sources in the late Middle Ages. It is mentioned in the Jerusalem Talmud as one of five elevated spots where fires were lit to announce the New Moon and festivals during the Second Temple period. Legend has it that Safed was founded by a son of Noah after the Great Flood. Safed has been identified with Sepph, a fortified Jewish town in the Upper Galilee mentioned in the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Josephus (Wars 2:573). In the 12th century, Safed was a fortified city in the crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem known as Saphet. The Knights Hospitaller built a castle there. In 1266, the Mamluk sultan Baybars wiped out the Christian Templar population and turned it into a Muslim town called Safad or Safat. 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. Its height is 120 ells, and its breadth is 70. And to the terrace-roof (of the tower) you go up by double passage. Five horses can ride up to the top (of the tower) abreast by winding passage-way without steps. 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.  In the fortress is a well called As Saturah. Its depth is 11 ells, by 6 ells across According to Abu al-Fida, Safad in
"Jordan Province,  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 gardens are below, in the valley going towards the Lake of Tabariyyah. Its suburbs are built over and cover three hills, and they possess many broad districts. Since the place was conquered by Al Malik Adh Dhahir from the Franks, it has been made the central station for the troops who guard all the coast-towns of that district."Safed rose to fame in the 16th century a center of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. 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 Palestine and the whole of the Ottoman Empire. Under the Ottomans, Safed was part of the vilayet of Sidon. After the expulsion of the Islamic rule and with it many Jews from Spain during the reconquista which ended by 1492, many prominent rabbis found their way to Safed, among them the kabbalists Isaac Luria (Arizal) and Moshe Kordovero; Joseph Caro, the author of the Shulchan Aruch and Shlomo Halevi Alkabetz, composer of the Sabbath hymn Lecha Dodi. The influx of Sephardi Jews made Safed a global center for Jewish learning and a regional center for trade throughout 15th and 16th centuries. In 1555, the Jewish population was 8,000-10,000. By the end of the century, it had grown to 20,000 or 30,000. An outbreak of plague decimated the population in 1742 and an earthquake in 1759 left the city in ruins. An influx of Russian Jews in 1776 and 1781, and of the Perushim in 1809 and 1810, reinvigorated the community. In 1812, another plague killed 80% of the Jewish population, and in 1819 the remaining Jews were held for ransom by Abdullah Pasha, the governor of Acre. On January 1, 1837, an earthquake killed 2,158 inhabitants, of which 1507 were Ottoman subjects, Muslim or Jewish. The north, Jewish section of the town was almost entirely destroyed, while the south, Moslem section suffered far less damage. In 1847, plague struck Safed again. Throughout the 19th century, the Jewish community suffered from Bedouin and Arab attacks.
The Jewish population was increased in the last half of the 19th century by immigration from Iran, Morocco, and Algeria. Moses Montefiore visited Safed seven times and financed rebuilding of much of the town. Virtually all the antiquities of Safed were destroyed by earthquakes.
The Qaddura family was a major Political force in Safad supplying family members to the Ottoman administration of the town. At the end of Ottoman rule the family owned 50,000 dunums, this included 8 villages around Safad.
In the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the first Palmah ground attack on Arab Safad took place on 6 May, as a part of Operation Yiftah. The Third Battalion failed to take the main objective, the "citadel", but "terrified" the Arab population sufficiently to prompt further flight, urgent appeals for outside help and an effort to obtain a truce. According to Benny Morris, Azzam Pasha accurately described the Plan D, of which Operation Yiftah was a part, when he said: The
Jews were following a perfectly clear plan... They are now [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. It was obvious that if this continued, the Arab armies would have great difficulty in even entering Palestine after May 15.Under command, the British, now less than a week away from the end of the British Mandate of Palestine, did not intervene against the second -and final- Haganah attack, which began on the evening of 9 May, with a mortar barrage on key sites in Safed. Following the barrage, Palmah 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 exit routes for the [Palestinian] population to "facilitate" their exodus." Some 12 000 refugees fled (some estimate 15,000). Among the refugees was the family of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. The city was fully under the control of Jewish paramilitary forces by May 11, 1948. On that day Palmah troops secured the now empty Arab quarters.
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 (DFLP) while sleeping in a school in Maalot. In what became known as the Ma'alot massacre, 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 figures in 2001, the ethnic makeup of the city was 99.2% Jewish and non-Arab, with no significant Arab 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.
In December 2001, residents of Safed earned an average of 4,476 shekels 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) certificate in 2001.
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, Moshe Castel 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, Aris San, and other acclaimed singers.
Messianism and the Resettlement of the Land of Israel. Morgenstern, Arie. Oxford University Press. 2007.