Klezmer Festival Safed
|Annual Klezmer Festival of Tzfat
|Annual Festival in Safed featuring Klezmer music.
Each year, following the Jewish day of mourning (Tisha B’Av), the Safed municipality invites visitors to attend the annual three-day Klezmer Festival, featuring Klezmer and other Jewish music. The festival occurs in August and attracts musicians from around the world who come to join in the festivities.
 Klezmer Music
“Klezmer” comes from two Hebrew words. “Kli” -- instrument -- and “zemer” -- song. Early Klezmer musicians played in Central and Eastern Europe. Their music evolved from Jewish “niggunim” -- tunes -- as well as original compositions.
The main instruments used in klezmer music were the clarinet and violin with brass, flute and drums becoming part of the ensemble as the years went by.
In Eastern and Central Europe Klezmer music was often associated with Jewish weddings. In America, klezmer music was appreciated by immigrants but became unpopular during the 20th century, returning to favor in the 1970s when a revival renewed interest in the genre.
 Klezmer in Tzfat
Under the leadership of mayor Zev Pearl, Tzfat began to host an annual Klezmer Festival in 1987. The festival was held in the lanes and alleys of the Old City and the Artists Quarter and featured local musicians.
In subsequent years, the stages moved around as festival organizers attempted to get a feel for the best way to encourage traffic flow, audience appreciation and musician comfort. Successive festival organizers have attempted to increase the number of stages to include performances in Safed’s old synagogues and other small parks and venues. In recent years the majority of the performances center in and around the major pedestrian throughfares of the city.
Stages include a stage near the municipality building, at the park “Gan HaIr,” in the central “Kikar HaMeginim” square, at the “Ma’ayan HaRadum” square, in the “Gan HaKasum” park, at the Saraya building and in-between the Old City and the Artist Quarter in the Sadeh Square. In addition, some local synagogues and institutions host their own small stages.
Featured musicians include both klezmer and non-klezmer bands. Most musicians are Israeli but some musicians come from other countries, including the United States, Hungary and Germany. Interestingly enough, some of the German and Hungarian klezmer musicians are not Jewish but are avid klezmer fans and feel a sense of responsibility to perpetuate this uniquely Jewish music. Some of Israel’s greatest musicians perform at the festival.
 Technical Arrangements
During the three-day Klezmer Festival, cars may not drive into the Old Jewish Quarter or the Artists Quarter (excepting residents). Cars may enter Tzfat freely up until approximately 5:00p.m., at which point visitors must park outside the city (parking lots are set up) and enter Safed by bus (special buses ferry visitors back and forth throughout the night).
 Open Air Stages
All of the stages are open-air and free. The city recoups its expenditures through the parking fees and the vendor licenses. During the festival visitors have the opportunity to buy a wide variety of handicrafts, food and other items from vendors who come to Tzfat to sell their wares.