Ha'Ari Synagogue Review
This Ashkenazi synagogue has associations going back to the 16th century. It is named for a rabbi who left an indelible mark on Tzfat and on Judaism: Isaac Luria, known to all as the Ari, Hebrew for "lion" and an acronym for Adoneinu Rabbeinu Itzhak ("our master and teacher Isaac"). In his mere three years in Tzfat, he evolved his own system of the Kabbalah, which drew a huge following that would influence Jewish teaching the world over. Even more astounding is that he died in his 30s; it is generally said that one should not even consider study of the Kabbalah before the age of 40, when one reaches the requisite level of intellectual and emotional maturity.
The pale colors of this tiny Ashkenazi synagogue contrast sharply with its olive-wood Holy Ark, a dazzlingly carved tour de force with two tiers of spiral columns and vibrant plant reliefs. (The Sephardic Ari Synagogue, where the rabbi prayed, is farther down the quarter, by the cemetery. The oldest of Tzfat's synagogues, this 16th-century structure has especially fine, carved, wooden doors.)
- Address: Najara St., Tzfat, 1320195
- Cost: Free
- Hours: Sun.–Thurs. 9:30 until afternoon prayer service (about 20 mins. before sunset), Fri. 9:30–1.
- Location: Tzfat