HaMeiri Dairy Safed
|Safed Dairy, First Dairy of Tzfat, HaMeiri Museum
|Ilya Sorkin Historic dairy, producing fine sheep’s-milk cheeses is Tzfat, Israel.
The famous HaMeiri Tzfat cheeses are produced by dairies throughout Israel, but the original dairy has been operating since 1840 and still produces the fine boutique cheeses which are coveted throughout Israel.
In 1840 Meir Mizrachi responded to the news of the devastating 1837 earthquake and Arab massacres by packing up his family in Iran and bringing them to settle in Tzfat. The family changed its name to “HaMeiri” and moved into a large stone house which is located near the base of the Old Jewish Quarter, on the road just above the ancient cemetery (today's Keren HaYesod Road). In this building they opened Israel’s first dairy, the HaMeiri Dairy.
 Dairy Legacy
Meir passed the dairy on to his son Shlomo, who passed it on to his son Meir. Meir II passed the dairy on to his son Shlomo II who passed it to his son Meir III. Meir III’s son Shlomo was born with disabilities and, until recently, the family believed that the dairy would close when Meir III retired. However, several years ago Meir’s son Yaniv decided to move back to Tzfat from Tel Aviv and take over the management of the dairy.
 Dairy Products
Yaniv introduced innovations to the dairy while maintaining the dairy’s basic product line and commitment to excellence. The traditional tour of the dairy, which includes a sound and light show which demonstrates how the dairy produces its cheeses, is available by pre-arrangement (a regularly-scheduled Friday tour is open to individuals and families). In addition the dairy now welcomes groups for cheese-tasting encounters and opens its restaurant to groups with prior reservations.
The HaMeiri Dairy credits the exquisite taste of its cheeses to its handling of its sheep who are given free-range grazing and are hand-milked to the sounds of soothing piped-in music. The dairy only uses spring water, another reason that, according to Meir HaMeiri, the cheeses are still known as gourmet foods throughout Israel.
 Cheese Varieties
HaMeiri Cheeses include Bulgarian, Zefati (a harder, salty cheese), Labeneh (a creamy sour cheese) and blue cheese. Tours include cheese-tasting and there are plenty of cheeses for sale at the dairy.
 HaMeiri Museum
Visitors to the dairy are treated to a tour of the dairy’s entry hall which is a small museum in and of itself. The hall features photos and descriptions of the major historical events which have taken place in Tzfat since the mid-19th century.
Members of the HaMeiri family were active in the Irgun, one of the pre-State paramilitary organizations which struggled for independence. They were also among Tzfat’s defenders during the War of Independence and the small display reflects this time of year as well as the HaMeiri family’s contribution to Tzfat’s liberation.
Read full Zissil article on the HaMeiri Museum