Safed Mayor Ilan Shohat and donors dedicated a newly established Legacy Center on Monday that is intended to serve as the gateway for the 1.2 million annual visitors to the historic Old City of Safed.The ceremony included a behind-the-scenes tour of the treasures of the Safed Legacy Library, as well as the unveiling of a dedication plaque naming the facility in honor of international philanthropist, Mr. Jack Belz of Memphis, Tennessee, and his family.
“This is a historic occasion, marking the first time the treasures of the Safed masters will be revealed to both scholars and visitors seeking access to the wisdom and inspiration that emanated from Safed,” said Rabbi Simcha Mirvis, founding director of the center. “Through this gift, the Belz family plays a major role in helping to develop the historic Old City of Safed. Their philanthropic leadership will help create a remarkable educational venue for Jews in Israel and around the world.”President Reuven Rivlin sent a letter that was read at the ceremony saying he was delighted with what he called a “wonderful initiative devoted to revealing and disseminating the heritage of the Safed masters.”Shohat said, “Safed is not just the capital of the Galilee but also the global capital of Jewish spirituality and culture. The opening of the Safed Legacy Center marks a momentous step forward toward reestablishing Safed to its previous stature and grandeur.” Belz noted that the center is currently housed in an interim facility, while the landmark campus is under development on one of the last parcels of land in the Old City. He said that when completed, it will mark the culmination of the rebuilding of the Old City of Safed in modern times.The anchor for the center’s programming will be the Safed Heritage Library, which will be one of the largest Judaic libraries in Israel, and will house the world’s finest collection of works that emanated from Safed. Four hubs of programming will draw from the library for Jews of all orientations, ages and backgrounds, including a research institute, a center for education and culture, an interactive visitor experience and an information center for Safed’s ancient cemetery.The center is a flagship project of the Nachal Novea Association, which has successfully initiated and built a myriad of educational and social projects to benefit Safed.