Friday, October 26, 2012

The poor side of Zfat (Safed)

This is how tourists know the romantic town of Zfat (Safed). Approximately 30,000 inhabitants and located about 30km north of Tiberias. 

Photos: Miriam Woelke


Tourist usually get to know Zfat on a fast food trip: Tour buses are rolling in and parking near the art galleries in the old city. The guides say a few words and the tourists start strolling around and maybe buying a souvenirs. Afterwards they are heading back to the bus and this was it. 

This is basically how it works with Taglit (Birthright) as well as with Gentile tourists. I am not sure if Taglit does it, as I only see them walking around the art galleries; however, other Jewish tourists like to visit the old famous synagogues in the old city and take a trip to the famous cheese producers Kadosh and Me'iri. I can really recommend the fresh KADOSH CHEESE. When you walk into their little branch near the Zfat cemetery, the Kadosh family lets you taste all different kinds of cheese and they even serve you a small cup of coffee (for free). KADOSH and ME'IRI are family businesses and huge competitors. Both are located very close to the cemetery. Just ask the locals for the way !

Within the past years, more and more American Olim have settled in Zfat. I was told by locals that many came and many have left. The famous town of medieval Kabbalah may be cheaper than Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh or Modi'in but life is still not that easy at all. One cannot live alone from spirituality but also needs an income. Once your Nefesh be'Nefesh money is gone, you will be forced to look for another income. Jobs are extremely rare and most of them are not well paid. People make it hardly over the month and probably half of the town in on the dole.

The Israeli locals don't mind the Americans coming but what they are hoping for is Americans coming with money and who are thus able to set up businesses in order to create jobs. However, most Olim arriving are coming because of the low rent in town. 

I am going to write a separate article on "Aliyah to Zfat" and in this post I am only giving you a slight idea about the town which is not only romantic and cozy but has a poor side too. The southern part located in the new city still offers relatively cheap rents but it is also not the best place. 

Here are a few impressions from the other side of Zfat.  

The small shopping mall in the center of the new city

One of the few factories in town: A branch of the Israeli food empire STRAUSS. This factory is roasting coffee

Copyright / Photos: Miriam Woelke

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