Jews have lived continuously in Safed since the Middle Ages. It was briefly destroyed during the Crusader period, but revived again in the early 13th century. From that point, it began to flourish and by the end of the 15th century, the local Jews were said to be trading chiefly in spices, cheese, oils, vegetables, and fruits. Many of the Jews who were expelled from Spain in 1492, settled there. The community reached its zenith in the 16th century when the town gained a reputation as a center of Kabbalah and was later considered as one of the four holy cities of Judaism in the Land of Israel (the other three being Jerusalem, Hebron, and Tiberias). Toward the end of the century and the beginning of the next, the Turkish administration began to decline and with it, Jewish prosperity. This was especially exacerbated due to the constant Arab civil wars in the area as well as an uprising by the local Druze. The community was augmented somewhat with the arrival of Hasidim from Europe in the 18th century, but in the 1830s, wars between Arab and Druze, and Arab intifadas and pogroms further depleted the community. But the situation stabilized by mid-century and the community grew again.
In 1929, the Arab population, instigated by the nationalists, assaulted the Jewish quarter and killed several of the inhabitants. During the British Mandatory period, a slow stream of Jews fled for their lives due to Arab hostility and the community stagnated.
Some of the Jewish buildings destroyed in Safed during the 1929 Arab pogroms
Mass funerals after the Arabs pogroms in Safed, 1929
Since Israeli independence, the community regained its strength and is, today, a flourishing city.