Tzemach Tzedek Synagogue Tzfat

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Tzemach Tzedek Shul
Tzemach Tzedek Shul
בית כנסת צמח צדק צפת
Zemach Zedek
Other Names:
Old City Chabad Shul
Old Chabad synagogue in Safed, Israel named after 3rd Lubavitcher Rebbe.

The Tzemach Tzedek synagogue in Tzfat is a central landmark for the local Lubavitch community. The Lubavitch Hassidim, also known as “Chabad,” operate a large and growing community outside of the Old City on Mount Canaan which dates to the early 1970s. Chabad’s Safed origins, however, can be traced to the Ashkanazi “aliyah” -- immigration -- of the 18th century, along with the Tzemach Tzedek shul on Hatam Sofer Street.

[edit] Chabad Chassidus Origins

Inside Tzemach Tzedek.
The Chassidic movement originated in the early 18th century in an area near the Polish/Ukrainian border. The Grand Master of the movement, the “Ba’al Shem Tov” taught that, contrary to the prevailing emphasis of the day, Jewish scholarship was not the only way to please God. Hassidic philosophy emphasized the importance of serving God through joyful and heartfelt worship and service. Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Lidai was a follower of the Hasidic movement during its third generation. Rabbi Shneur Zalman, known as the “Alter Rebbe,” went on to establish a new branch of the movement called Chabad, which combined Torah scholarship with Hassidic philosophy. After Rabbi Shneur Zalman’s death, his son Dov Baer, accepted the mantle of Chabad leadership. Rabbi Dov Baer settled, together with his followers, in the town of Lubavitch in White Russia.

[edit] Immigration to Tzfat

In 1777 Ashkanazi -- Eastern European -- Jews began to immigrate to Israel in large numbers. Hassidic Jews, including followers of the Chabad movement, paved the way, encouraged by Rabbi Shneur Zalman. The Hassidim traveled with Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Vitebsk and established communities in Tzfat and Tiberias. Their immigration received financial support through the efforts of Rabbi Shneur Zalman who had remained in Moholiev Russia.

[edit] Chabad in Tzfat

In the early 1800s the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, known as the “Tzemach Tzedek” acquired the land for a synagogue in Safed in the eastern sector of the Jewish Quarter. His followers built the shul and named it the “Tzemach Tzedek.” The synagogue served the Chabad community for many years as the central Chabad site of Tzfat. By the early 20th century the entire Tzfat Jewish population began to decline due to disease, economic stress and famine. At this point the Tzemach Tzedek synagogue fell into disrepair.

The seventh Chabad Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, sent emissaries to Tsfat in 1972 to reestablish the Chabad presence in the city. In addition to directing his followers to establish schools and a “Kiriyah” -- apartment community -- the Lubovitcher Rebbe requested that his followers renovate and revitalize the Tzemach Tzedek synagogue.

The renovations were completed in the early years of the 21st century and the synagogue, located on a lane below the commercial Jerusalem Street, is open throughout the day for prayers and study. A kollel and yeshivah Tememei Derech, maintain full-time Torah studies for students as well as drop-ins. Tzfat’s Old City Chabad House, located a few yards away from the Tzemach Tzedek is open for classes and other outreach activities.


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