The Galilee & Tzfat Kaballah

April 8th 2012

Mysticism, Nature and History in the Galilee and Tzfat 

A tour of the northern region of Israel has something for everyone. From the home of kabbalah to an abandoned Syrian army camp, and from hiking through waterfalls to a 1920 battlefield, you’ve got all your bases covered. Perfect for the whole family, the Galilee is not to be missed.

A trip to the North must include a stop in Tzfat (sometimes spelled Safed), one of Israel’s four holy cities. The ancient city became a spiritual heart of Judaism, and in particular Kabbalah, in the 1600s, and has been a pilgrimage site for kabbalists ever since. The spiritual nature of Tzfat makes it an unparalleled place for a Bar or Bat Mitzvah. If Jewish mysticism isn’t your cup of tea, Tzfat has plenty more reasons to visit.

As the highest city in the region, Tzfat offers unparalleled views of the surrounding area, including the Sea of Galilee, Tiberias and even into Lebanon. Its famous artists’ colony has made the city known as an art capital of Israel. Spend an afternoon wandering the charming cobblestone streets and visiting the studios and galleries of local artists, and you are sure to find a one-of-a-kind souvenir to remind you of your tour to Israel.

After absorbing the mysticism and arts in Tzfat, you may enjoy an invigorating jeep tour through the Golan Heights. On a nice day, nothing beats an exhilarating off-road tour of the region, which offers unique opportunities to view the landscape and observe wild animals. Get off the beaten path, quite literally, and experience Israel in a totally new way.

For lovers of the outdoors, the famous Banias Falls in the Hermon National Park is another sensational place to visit. Located at the foot of Mount Hermon, a hike through the nature reserve will lead you past many natural springs, Greek ruins (of the city Panias), an ancient Roman bridge, and even an active Druze flour mill. The highlight of the park is Banias Falls, Israel’s largest and most impressive waterfall.

The North of Israel is also home to many significant historical sites. Find out why there are so many Trumpeldor Streets in Israel at Tel Chai Court and Museum. Here you will learn about the 1920 Battle of Tel Chai (which means “Hill of Life” in Hebrew), when Joseph Trumpeldor fought and died alongside other Zionist defenders as Arab fighters attacked Jewish settlements in the Upper Galilee. Visitors are able to explore the actual fort where the battle took place, which overlooks the gorgeous Hula Valley, itself an amazing bird sanctuary.

For more military history, head to Tel Facher, a former Syrian army base that was the site of one of the bloodiest battles of the 1967 Six Day War. Although it lasted a mere five hours, the skirmish left only one involved Israeli soldier unharmed, but the IDF succeeded in wrestling the Tel Facher fortification from Syrian control. Explore the trenches on your own or with a guided tour, and get a real sense of Israeli history and military valor.