Introduction of Safad
Town in the NE, 7 mi NNW of the Sea of Galilee, 30 mi ENE of Haifa. One of the four holy cities of Judiasm and a center of Jewish culture and mysticism, Safad was founded c. a.d. 70 and fortified by the Jewish historian and general Flavius Josephus. It was an important 12th-century Crusader castle. Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 established Safad as a seat of rabbinical and cabalistic studies, setting up the first Hebrew press in 1563. In 1776 an influx of Russian Hasidim repopulated the city after it had been damaged by a violent earthquake in 1769. Jews were forced to leave by the Arabs in 1929, but they returned in 1948 after World War II and the declaration of the State of Israel. Ruins of the 12th-century castle are here.