The Hungarian "Shul"
Located in the southern residential neighborhood situated near the Elite coffee factory and the Government Offices complex on Weizmann Street, you will find the Central "Agudat Achim" synagogue, affectionately known as the "Hungarian shul".
There was a small Hungarian community in Safed after Independence and this synagogue was built in memory of the Hungarian Jewry murdered by the Nazis in the last year of the Second World War. The synagogue, at 11 Herzl Street, was constructed in 1962 in a modernist style and due to its popularity was expanded in 1975. As a result of the 2nd Lebanon War in 2006 the synagogue members are now planning to build a protected security room which can also be used for classes and other functions.
The synagogue has seating for some 300 men and has very quiet air-conditioning. The upstairs ladies gallery is also spacious and the glass partition enables the women to both see and hear what is going on down below.
During the 2nd Lebanon War when katyusha rockets were falling all around Safed, one landed very close to the synagogue. There was considerable damage to the building including to the beautiful stained glass windows. Although this happened on a Friday it was a few hours before services and fortunately no one was hurt.
Customs of the Synagogue
This is one of the few congregations considered to be Ashkenazi in Safed. They pray according to the regular Israeli prayer text (Nusach Sefard) with some special customs that are unique to Safed and the synagogue in particular.
a) The Sanctification of the Moon (Kiddush Levana) service is held after the end of Shabbat (motzei Shabbat) after the 7th day of the Hebrew month
b) The lifting of the open Torah is before the Torah reading, and the second lifting, when the Torah is closed, is after the end of the Torah reading
c) Mourners Kaddish prayer- all the mourners say it together standing behind the chazzan (prayer leader)
d) The Adon Olam prayer is sung on a Friday night at the end of the evening service.
e) The Hymn of Glory is sung after Shacharit and before the Torah reading and is sung by all the young boys together. This custom is particularly unique to this synagogue.
Shacharit: Daily 6.25am; Mondays & Thursdays 6.15 am, Rosh Hodesh & Fast days 6.00 am
Mincha: approximately 1/4hr before sunset
Maariv: 45 minutes after Mincha
Mincha & Kabbalat Shabbat: 10 minutes after candle lighting
Mincha: Candle lighting time
Maariv: At the end of Shabbat
The synagogue has an ever expanding Torah Library and a Beit Midrash or study hall. Classes (in Hebrew) on various Torah topics are offered every day between Mincha and Maariv with topics varying according to the day. There is also a regular Daf Yomi (Daily Gemara) class with Rabbi Hanina Brin. On Friday nights there is a class before Mincha. On Shabbat between Mincha and Maariv the congregation have a Third Meal (Seuda Shlishit) together with a talk about the Torah reading of the week. Other classes are scheduled according to interest.
For more information about classes, prayer times for Festivals and general information about the synagogue contact Shalom Weiss: 04 697 1898. The Hungarian synagogue is one of the few in Tzfat which is completely wheelchair accessible.
Address: 11 Herzl Street