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Israel Day 4: Exploring Rosh Pinna and Jewish Mysticism in Safed (Tzfat)


After a sumptuous Israeli breakfast - a virtual feast coming from the kitchens of Pina Barosh - Peter and I set out for a walk in search of the Old Rosh Pinna. As we scaled its steep, cobblestoned streets, this charming mountain side town, with its quaint stone houses and courtyard with breathtaking views, gave us a sense of being away from the persecutions of the world. A chance for its pioneers to have a fresh start. What they wouldn’t have banked on was the harshness of this land, which broke the spirits of all but three families in the end. I was filled with admiration for the ones that stayed on, making Rosh Pinna what it is today.

The iconic sites of Rosh Pinna are few and far between; that’s not what visitors come here in search of. Rather, it's the restfullness and tranquility that draws them. The Rothschild Gardens, while small in scale, exuded a quiet vibe that encouraged one to rest, take in the surroundings, and take stock of the big picture, whatever that might be. 

After working our legs and making it to the top of our street, we were rewarded with magnificent views from the Nimrod Lookout. Named after Nimrod Segev, a beautiful young man killed in his prime in the Second Lebanon War, the shrine was built by Nimrod’s father, Hezi Segev, who wishes to commemorate Nimrod’s name and pass on his legacy for future generations. Walking the steep cobblestoned streets of Rosh Pinna was just a warm-up for the next mountaintop village on our “to do” list, Safed (Tzfat). 

In the 16th century, Safed was the centre of Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism. The small town is now home to a mixture of Hassidic Jews, would-be mystics, and American immigrants. It’s art galleries, artist’s studios, steep stone stairways and cobblestone streets give it a distinctly bohemian air, although parts of it had a grungy/ ghetto feel to it. Spending a couple of hours exploring its narrow alleyways, synagogues, and arts and crafts stores, we ventured into the Kabbalah Centre, where we watched a short but fascinating audio visual on the ancient wisdom. Kabbalah is meant to provide practical tools for creating joy and lasting fulfillment, although based on the dour expression on the face of the young lady who took our small donation she hadn't found hers yet.

Exhausted from the day's activities, we stopped by a Shawarma food bar by the side of the road and ate a forgettable falafel, after which we decided to call it a day. After the punishing pace of the past week, a restful afternoon at Pina Barosh was just what we needed.

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 11th September, 2014 | Trackbacks
Categories: Israel
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