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Synagogues of Safed: The Beirav Synagogue

The Beirav Synagogue is named for Rabbi Yaakov Beirav, who lived in Tsfat in the 16th century and helped to revive the rabbinical ordination system and reestablish the Sanhedrin, Judaism’s highest court of law (halakhah). Rabbi Beirav was the teacher of Rabbi Yosef Karo, who codified Jewish law in the Shulkhan Arukh, a book of authoritative Jewish law.

Established in 1997, the synagogue in the Old City of Tsfat is home to a lively and active Carlebach congregation. The Beirav Synagogue is built entirely of Galilee stones, with arches framing its windows. The Ark is covered with a hand-embroidered silk parochet (Ark curtain) and the ner tamid (eternal light) that hangs in the Ark is dedicated in memory of Shlomo Carlebach, a rabbi, teacher, composer, and song writer of beautiful and spiritual melodies.

The Beirav Synagogue building was originally used by Poalei Mizrachi in the late 19th century after the earthquake of 1837 until they moved away or aged. English speaking Jews reoccupied the building in 1990s. From its inception in 1997, the congregation has used beautiful Carlebach melodies that draw diverse and spirited crowds from all corners of the world. The synagogue also serves as one of the performance venues during the Tsfat Klezmer Festival.

Sources: Beirav Synagogue, Safed; Photo courtesy of Beirav Synagogue.