Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue

Destinations in Safed

The Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, located in Safed, Israel, is thought to be the oldest synagogue still in use today in Israel. The unassuming Synagogue was built in honor of Rabbi Isaac Luria and dated back to the 16th century. Sadly, during the 1837 earthquake of Galilee, the temple was destroyed, and it wasn’t until 20 years later that it was rebuilt.


In This Photo: The Altar Where the Torah Scrolls Are kept

Luckily, that temple is still standing today. Even though the synagogue is known as “Ashkenazi,” which is associated with Eastern European Jews, it serves as a place of worship for a variety of people. Today, you will find Hasidic; Sephardic; and other affiliations of worshippers sharing the synagogue. I highly suggest that you take a private tour with me of this historic synagogue so that you can revel in the delights of the past and the beauty of the present.

Visiting the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue  

In the 16th century, the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue was built on the edges of the Old City of Safed, an area settled by Spanish exiles who had settled in Greece and ended up immigrating to Safed. The people of the congregation were primarily Kabbalists who followed Rabbi Moshe Cordovero. So, who is Ari? “Ari” was the nickname given to the famous Rabbi Isaac Luria, who had joined the synagogue in 1570.


In This Photo: The Priestly Blessing Decorating the Altar

He was known for praying in the synagogue on the Eve of Sabbath before walking to a nearby field with his disciplines. Within the field, they would welcome the Sabbath and sing. The popular Shabbat melody, Lecha Dodi, was created here! To this day, worshippers of Judaism still sing Lecha Dodi toward the synagogue entrance to “greet” the Sabbath.  

A Stunning Interior Awaits You! 

Within the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue, there is stunning and complex artwork that is a feast for the eyes to behold. The Bima and the Ark in the Ari Ashkenazi Synagogue hold fascinating stories themselves. The Bima, the platform in the middle for reading the Torah; has a peculiar notch in it.

During the War of Independence, a bomb fell in the courtyard, and shrapnel flew in every direction. It should have caused mass injuries. However, the congregation; unknowing of the impending threat; was bowing when the bomb landed. The shrapnel flew over the head of the worshipper, hitting the Bima instead! 



The Holy Ark was carved by a craftsman from Galicia from olive wood in the style of Eastern European synagogues. The artist himself was a non-Jew and was unaccustomed to their religious practices. One such practice is never depicting human figures in the synagogue. Unaware of this, he carved a face at the top of the ark. Since this couldn’t be allowed into the synagogue, they modified it to look like an anthropomorphic lion as a nod to “Ari,” which means “lion.”



On my guided tours of Safed, I don’t skip this beautiful synagogue. Although it is not big, or better said because it is not big; the synagogue gives this intimate peek into what is Jewish life and tradition. If you want we can also sing his famous poem for the Jewish Sabbath. There are various ways to sing it but I have one that I found recently that I think is just perfect. So don’t think about it too much and get in touch with me and let’s go touring Israel! I promise you, it is gonna be pure magic. 


apt-stamp-white@2x
arik-about

Hi! My name is Arik Haglili, an Israeli native who decided to dedicate his life to share my knowledge about the Holy Land to those that are interested to know more about this amazing piece of land. My career as a private tour guide started at the International School For the Studying of the Holocaust and the rest is history. 

Did you know the Hoopoe is Israel's national bird?! For more cool info about Israel, join our ever growing community and get exclusive travel tips, and giveaways!

Simon Peter

RELATED POSTS

Church of Mary Magdalene

The Church of Mary Magdalene is a church located on the Mount of Olives, directly across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount and near ...

Ancient Bethel

Bethel is a town north of Jerusalem that is believed to be one of the first places in the Bible where the Hebrew people met with God.

Ein Prat Nature Reserve

Originating close to Jerusalem and stretching all the way to Jericho before flowing into the Dead Sea in the Wadi Qelt. Ein Prat Nature Reserve is the ...

Alona Park (Mey Kedem)

Alona Park is a natural park near the entrance, there is the water dam "Mey Kedem," a water aqueduct from the Roman-Byzantine period.

Mensa Christi Church

Mensa Christi Church is the site where according to Christian tradition Jesus and the apostles dined, after his Resurrection in his hometown.

Zion Gate in Jerusalem

Zion Gate in Jerusalem is one of eight Gates of the Old City of Jerusalem. The name ‘Zion Gate’ is taken from the name of ...

Best National Parks in Israel

Which are the best National Parks in Israel? So I've compiled a shortlist of my top 5 parks for those planning to visit the Holy Land soon!

Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve

Nahal Kziv Nature Reserve runs along the length of the perennial Nahal Kziv stream in Upper Galilee in northern Israel. Starting near Mount Meron, Nahal ...

Kursi National Park

Kursi National Park is important to Christians due to its ancient Byzantine monastery and the location of the Miracle of the Swine.

Chapel of the Ascension

The Chapel of the Ascension is a shrine on top of Mt. Olives. It's believed to be the earthly spot where Jesus ascended into Heaven.

Need help?

Skip to content