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The Beirav Synagogue is located on #10 Meginei Tzfat Street, a modest building more than a century old, along the cobblestone alley just off Jerusalem Street, and above Kikar (Square) Meginim in the Old City of Tzfat. During the week, the building frequently houses classes on Torah study for local and visiting groups.
The Beirav Synagogue was established in 1997 and is recognized as a non-profit organization (Amutah) by the Rasham Amutot and Israeli tax authorities, and is as an affiliate of P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds. To receive a recognized U.S. tax deductible receipt for dollar donations over $25, contributions may be sent, clearly earmarked for the Beirav Synagogue, to: P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds, Inc., 317 Madison Ave., Suite 607, New York, N.Y.10017.
The Beirav Synagogue is named for the famous 16th century Torah sage, Rav Yaakov Beirav, best known for his attempts to revive the process of rabbinical ordination and re-establish the Sanhedrin, Judaism’s highest court of halacha. A native of Spain and disciple of the Ari HaKadosh, Rav Yaakov Beirav was the teacher of another Tzfat luminary, Rabbi Yosef Caro, who codified Jewish law in the Shulchan Aruch.
Constructed in the late 19th century by Poalei Mizrachi members, the small Beirav building served as a synagogue and study hall for nearly a century, until members of the congregation aged or moved away.
A new chapter in Beirav history began to unfold in the mid-1990’s when the unused building was made available to a fledging minyan of English speakers. In 1997, the Rabbinical Beit Din of Tzfat officially presented the synagogue in receivership to the new Beirav board.
That same year, two members, Shmuel Polsky and Meir Glazer, later joined by Yitschak Ginsberg, introduced the Carlebach-style tefilaheter to the congregation, and the transformation of Beirav was complete. Within months, the small minyan became a nucleus for the crowds who pack the synagogue each week, all year round.
Like many buildings in the Old City of Tzfat, the Beirav Synagogue is built entirely of Galilee stones, with stone arches framing its windows. But unlike most of Tzfat’s well-known synagogues, Beirav’s beauty does not lie in its furnishings. In recent years, the Aron Kodesh, an exquisite work, was donated by the Lieberman family of Teaneck, New Jersey in memory of their beloved father, Aron Lieberman z”l. It is adorned with a one-of-a kind parochet, hand-embroidered by a skilled artisan of the OldCity. The Ner Tamid which graces the Aron Kodesh is in memory of Shlomo Carlebach, z”l.The rest of the synagogue, with its plastic chairs, and aged wooden doors, is quite simple.
Yet, like the sparkling crystal chandelier in the center of the synagogue, Beirav has countless shining facets – the people who come from all over the world to be part of its uniquely moving tefilah.
Tiny in size but boundless in spirit, the Beirav synagogue welcomes anyone whose soul yearns for new spiritual heights.
A jewel in the timeless crown of Safed’s OldCity, the Beirav Synagogue is a vibrant spiritual home for the unparalleled approach to prayer sparked by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, of blessed memory.