Judaism has many traditional sacred places, most of them within the nation of Israel. Jewish people have revered many of these sites for centuries or even millennia. However, many of them are also sacred places to Christians or Muslims, and so they are often places of violence and conflict as well as reverence. Today, several of Judaism's most sacred places are extremely dangerous to visit.
The city Jerusalem is home to many of Judaism's most sacred places. These include the Western Wall, which was built around the Temple Mount and is the most visible piece remaining of their ancient Second Temple. Jerusalem also contains the Dome of the Rock, where Jewish tradition teaches that Abraham tried to sacrifice his son Isaac, after which God blessed Abraham and promised that he would be the father of many, including the modern Jewish people.
Hebron, 23 miles north of Jerusalem, is one of the four holiest places in Judaism. The city was one of the first places Abraham lived after he arrived in Canaan; King David was anointed and reigned for seven years there and Jews lived there continuously for one thousand years. Hebron also contains the Tomb of the Patriarchs, the world's most ancient Jewish site and their second holiest place, after Jerusalem's Temple Mount.
Safed -- also spelled Tzefiya, Safad, Zefat and Sefad -- did not become an important Jewish site until the late 1400s, when Jews began moving there after being expelled from Spain with the Inquisition. Today, Safed is a major site for Jewish mysticism; the kabbalah, whose most prominent expert -- Rabbi Isaac Luria -- lived and taught here. Many other prominent Jews have also lived there, included Joseph Caro, Rabbi Moshe Cordovero and Solomon Alkabetz.
According to Jewish tradition, after the Messiah comes the resurrection of the dead will begin in Tiberias. Ironically, when Herod Antipas first built the city, Jews wouldn't live in it because it was built on an ancient burial ground and therefore unclean. However, in the early second century, a rabbi purified Tiberias and it became a center of Jewish learning and spirituality. Many Jews believe that the Mishnah and Talmud -- two central Jewish texts -- were completed in Tiberias.
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