In ancient times, the city of Tzfat was a bustling center of international commerce, manufacturing, intellect, Torah study and mysticism. On the ancient trade route between Damascus and the port of Akko, the whole world passed through Tzfat. The city was a major producer of silk and linen – remnants of the silk trade remain today as the hills are still studded with mulberry trees. Here in Tzfat the holy Ari lived and developed his mystical teachings. Here in Tzfat Rabbi Joseph Karo compiled the Shulchan Aruch, basis to our present day codes of Jewish law.
Kehilat Tzfat's goal is to return Tzfat to its former glory – to build stability and dignity; to attract scholars and business opportunities; to revive the atmosphere of Torah, holiness and prosperity that has long abandoned this special city.
After fifteen years, Kehilat Tzfat is a beacon to attract and build a stable mainstream community. R' Mordechai Dov Kaplan, the Rabbi of the Old City of Tzfat, has gathered a diversity of rabbanim to support this important effort.
Among our projects is the “Beth Midrash.” In the ancient tradition of Tzfat, ALL kinds of Jews toil here in learning. Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Chasidim and Misnagdim … all learn together under one roof. We presently have more than 90 full time post-yeshiva students. Kehilat Tzfat's members are everywhere in Tzfat; teachers, students, professionals, business people.
As the community grows, its needs are expanding rapidly. Rising to the occasion, Kehilat Tzfat opened schools from preschool through Yeshiva/Seminar – teaching more than 600 boys and girls. Our Seminar teaches about 180 girls; including academic and vocational training. Not only do these schools educate our children; they employ our community members – with about 80 employees: teachers, administrators, secretaries, maintenance and cleaning staff.
We anticipate the arrival of 250-300 families in the next several years. We need NOW to prepare the infrastructure to accommodate them. Our schools and classrooms are too small – we’re already overcrowded! Where will these people live, where will they work, where will they study? We are preparing for them now.
Why are families attracted to Tzfat? Powerful economic incentives make settling this underdeveloped area very attractive. Housing costs 30-50 percent of what comparable housing would cost in the population centers – a young couple can afford to buy here with relative ease. Whereas in other religious centers, work for kollel wives is virtually nonexistent, in Tzfat there are jobs for qualified men and women. We have access and influence to help our community find employment.
We cannot do this ourselves. We need your help. Please take your “chelek” (your part)!
Mateh Aharon is the US fund raising arm of Kehilat Tzfat. Contributions to “Mateh Aharon” will be gratefully received. U.S. tax deductible donations may be made to “Mateh Aharon” and sent to Congregation Beth Israel, 1630 Bancroft Way, Berkeley, CA 94703.