Sunday, August 19, 2007

Tzfat's Khan of the White Donkey

Although it is only 180 years old, "The Khan" is Tzfat's newest musical space, and so much more. Moshe Tov Kreps and his all-star team including Gavi Strauss and Eliyahu (Andy) Alperin have expanded the Center for Healthy Living into the historic space of what was once a "khan" or caravansarai -- a lodging place for the donkey caravans that came to the market place in the old days. Hence the new moniker: HaKhan HaHamor HaLavan - the Khan of the White Donkey. After all, it's an undisputed Talmudic fact that the Messiah will pass through Tzfat on His way to Jerusalem, and not only that, that a white donkey will make a key appearance in the story itself. The Khan was the site of 3 nights of musical innovation including a guest appearance by Yehuda Katz. Chai shop, beer (imported all the way from the Golan Winery), kosher snacks and fun was had by all.

Moshe Tov describes the Khan this way:

We're very happy to announce that about 3 months ago we acquired an historic 160-year-old property in the heart of old Tzfat that will provide a site for expanded activities of the Center. Located in the Artists' Quarter near the General Exhibition (the old mosque) and the Maayan HaRadum, and unused and rundown for almost 20 years, it is dominated by a large stone-arched hall of over 100 meters, one of the largest single rooms in Tzfat. We believe it used to be a "khan" or caravansarai, a kind of combination stable and inn where in the old days traveling merchants and their caravans of pack animals (most likely donkeys) would gather and stay while doing business at the central shuk (marketplace) next door. There is also a small apartment, courtyard and rooftop. It is a very special place with much potential that calls out for sensitive restoration.
We have been cleaning it up, exploring its spaces and patiently assessing possibilities. Our ideas include using the big room for large group activities, yoga, movement, dance classes, lectures, community meals, childrens activity groups, music performances, theatre, movies, art gallery, workshop space, etc. The apartment area could serve as an office, library, meeting space, holistic treatment rooms, guest rooms, etc. In addition we envision creating a food preparation and service space which could support nutrition and cooking classes as well as a simple natural food bar open to the public.
We are excited that this space could anchor a larger development growing into a conference center, institute or community center manifesting the purposes of the Center for Healthy Living: improving the quality of the environment, supporting holistic approaches to personal and community health, demonstrating the practical benefits of traditional arts & culture, and stimulating community creativity. In short, to be a catalyst for the much-needed sustainable vitalization of Tzfat and the Upper Galilee.
The building renovation itself will become an open project of the Center, as we learn and share knowledge of appropriate traditional methods and materials. We are interviewing architects, builders, environmental designers, health workers, etc to form a team of professionals, consultants, locals and visitors to work together to create a showcase for creative stewardship. We plan to have fun doing it.
Anyone interested in finding out how they can help with the Khan's restoration and development, please contact Moshe Tov Kreps at Tzfat's Center for Healthy Living, (054)7338388.

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