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Untold Stories of Tzfas

Shira Yehudit Djilimand

The holy city of Tzfas holds many secrets, and it takes a determined enthusiast to ferret them all out. Rabbi Yisroel Rottenberg — tour guide, storyteller and well-known Tzfas rav and former rebbi — has made it his business to discover the secrets hidden within his city’s ancient stones.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

After living in Tzfas for fourteen years, I thought I knew pretty much all the stories about the city. Therefore, when Rabbi Yisroel Rottenberg, a well-known and respected Tzfas rabbi, suggested a tour for Mishpacha, I was skeptical whether he could tell me anything new. But I hadn’t reckoned on Rabbi Rottenberg.

Originally from London, after making aliyah he became a much-loved rebbi in the Old City. Later he was responsible for a number of Tzfas’s educational and chessd institutions. How did he make the leap from chinuch and chesed to being a font of fascinating information about Tzfas and a popular tour guide?

“I was having a hard time making a living from chinuch, so I started giving tours,” he explains. “I met all these people visiting Tzfas, and they had so many questions about its history. I therefore began to ask around and talk to people.”

The result is that Rabbi Rottenberg has discovered stories that neither I nor our Tzfas-born-and-bred photographer Eliyahu Cobin had ever heard. And perhaps there will be a few stories that are new to you, too.


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