1838 Safed Plunder
|ביזת צפת בשנת תקצ"ד|
|Attack on the Jews of Tzfat in 1834 by invading Druzes and local Arabs.|
The 1838 Safed Plunder was led by local Druze tribes as part of their revult against Egyptian governor Ibrahim Pasha who had taken over the Ottoman rulership of the area. Druze rebels, joined by local Arabs attacked the Jewish Quarter looting the homes and synagogues over a three-day period. Although there were no fatalities, this was a finalizing event in a series of disasters that befell Safed, including a plague in 1812, the month-long Arab attack of 1834 and the 1837 earthquake. Most remaining residents left the city after the plunder leaving a only population of 1,350 who decided to stay.
The ruling Ottoman Turks lost control of Palestine for ten years between 1831 and 1841 to the Egyptians. Local tribes revolted against Ibrahim Pasha, the Egyptian governor during this time. In January 1838 the Druze revolted and captured an Egyptian garrison outside of Tzfat. The Jews of Tzfat relied on the protection of the Arab governor but he was not able to withstand the attack. The local militia fled Tzfat and the Druze rebels, the very same people that defended the Jews 4 years earlier during the Arab riots, attacked the Jewish Quarter.
The local Arabs joined the Druze in plundering the Jewish Quarter. The Druze and Arabs believed that the Jews had hidden treasures and they looted the homes and synagogues of the Jewish Quarter over a three-day period. There were no fatalities but this episode convinced almost all of Tzfat’s remaining Jews to leave.
According to a census taken by Judith and Moses Montefiori, who visited Safed in 1839, only 1,357 Jews were left in Safed after the pogrom. Most were Sephardic and a few Ashkenazi. Montefiori donated large sums of money to restart the community and fund its institutions and the residents who were prepared to stay and revitalize the city.