November 7th, 2002
Torah Scroll Case Dedicated
The Neighborhood on Mt. Gerizim is
Flourishing Following the Abandonment
of the Samaritan Settlement in Nablus
TV Just Got
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POB 1029, Holon 58 110, Israel or
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Torah Scroll Case Dedicated
In the afternoon of Friday, October 18, 2002, a new
was dedicated to the Samaritan community in Holon. After praying for
twenty-two consecutive days during the Samaritan Holy days of the feasts,
together in both of the synagogues in Holon, the community gathered for
the Torah dedication. The Torah scroll was paraded to the smaller
synagogue where it was presented for viewing by the observers. Photos were
taken, as you can well
Pictured above is Priest Elazar (dressed in blue), next to him and the
scroll is Yefet and his two young sons, Golan (on the left) and Gilad (on
During the week the sons work with their father, Yefet at
business, a plastic factory. Yefet made a gift of the pure silver
Torah cylinder style case. Priest Elazar with them.
Yefet and his sons are from the
Inside the beautiful silver case is the Torah scroll that was written by
the priest Pinhas ben Abraham. Pinhas was the first priest who came to
live in Holon after 1967.
afternoon the community gathered at the home of Yefet and then paraded the
scroll to the synagogue. Carrying the dedicated scroll in the picture to
left is head cantor of the main synagogue in Holon, Assaf Ben Tabya ben Pinhas.
He has been the official cantor for the last seventeen years when he
replaced the late Pinhas ben Abraham ben Pinhas (may God have mercy
on him). Phinhas was
the first priest who came to live in Holon after 1967 and
served as the cantor. Today Assaf's son Abraham is
the second cantor at the smaller synagogue in Holon. On regular days Assaf
works at his own business supplying office equipment to local
businesses. The four photos were taken by Samaritan Eyal Cohen.
The Neighbourhood on Mt. Gerizim is Flourishing
Following the Abandonment
of the Samaritan Settlement in Nablus
(A. B. News
Services) One of our old friends, Zebulan Altif who is among the
leaders of the community in Kiryat Luza, the Samaritan neighbourhood on
Mount Gerizim, threw a last glance at his father's and uncles' house in
the Samaritan neighbourhood in Nablus. He was remembering the
circumstances that had led him to deliver the keys of his house to the
lessees, members of a Palestinian aid organization, after collecting the
yearly rent money, a handsome sum, which helped him to enlarge and
renovate his new home in Kiryat Luza.
kept himself a small room in the house for storing some of the heavier
furniture and managing his affairs while he was in town, but his eyes were
moist despite himself and there was no doubt left in his heart that a
period in his life and the lives of many others like him in the Samaritan
community in Nablus and on Mount Gerizim was over. The Samaritan quarter
in Nablus was gradually being abandoned, house by house, most of its
houses being sold or rented to Nablus residents and Palestinian social,
welfare and aid organizations.
"Yes," said Zebulan, his voice stifled and repressed, "I had made up my
mind never to desert my ancestral home, but reality was stronger. I
provided for my sons' and daughters' future in Kiryat Luza, which enabled
me to withdraw from my decision and leave behind me the house where I had
spend most of my life."
patted his shoulder gently to pacify him, asking him to look at the 'full
half of the glass' of his sensitive, personal subject. "But you were not
born in this neighbourhood," we told him, "your father brought you here to
live when you were a mere boy, a few years after the enormous earthquake
in Nablus in 1927. The Samaritan quarter in Nablus, in the western part of
the city on the slopes of Mount Gerizim was nothing but a relatively new
neighbourhood that had not even grown old with time yet. It was not 65
years old when most of it had already been abandoned in favor of the new
neighbourhood on the mountain, Kiryat Luza, which was being fast populated
in the seven years of the first 'Intifada,' we told our agitated converser
who was well aware of these facts but refused to be comforted.
and see," we continued to say, "When was the pain of leaving the
neighbourhood behind stronger? Is it today, when we part from a
neighbourhood that is less than 70 years old or was it in the first half
of the 1930's, when we had to depart from the old quarter in the heart of
the city where you and our forefathers had lived for over a thousand
years? Yet is there anyone who is still undergoing the apin of that
walked with Zebulan on one of our farewell strolls in the Samaritan
neighbourhood in Nablus. We passed the single houses that had not yet been
rented out or sold. We paused for a short moment next to the home of the
Paternal House of Tsedaka, three of whose families were the last to reside
in the neighbourhood during the winter months. We then turned to the left
into the main street, where small offices of the community priests used to
be fully active until the outbreak of the second 'Intifada' in October
2000 and welcomed Jewish and Arab visitors who purchased amulets and paid
good money for counsels for a better life. Nowadays those chambers are
still open but there are no visitors.
four years ago some two dozen families used to come down the mountain in
winter to stay in the Samaritan quarter in Nablus and the singing and
chanting of prayers could be heard in the synagogue, which was inaugurated
in 1947. However, the demise of the late High Priest Yusef B. Ab-Chisda
Ha'Abta'ai, God have mercy on him, in February 1998 at his home in Nablus
where he used to stay every winter, reinforced the feeling and the
realization already present in the hearts of many who came down in winter
to stay in the neighbourhood in Nablus that 'there's nothing more to do
there, our future is on Mount Gerizim.' And it so happened. Without
consulting with each other all of the 'winter migrants' determined to stay
in their houses on the mountain and spend a first-time winter in Kiryat
are still some, albeit few, who promise themselves that this is a
temporary situation. In their hearts however, they too know that the new
situation is irreversible. There is no way back. Never again will they
return to dwell in their houses in Nablus. Year after year they will
continue to lease their houses to the highest bidder, while this
additional sum also constitutes an important part of their annual income.
Samaritans of Mount Gerizim used to call the three families of the House
of Tsedaka "watchmen [Shomerim] of the Nablus quarter" until they too
moved to their houses on the Mountain. There is almost nothing left to
guard. There are no Torah scrolls in the synagogue anymore. The success of
Kiryat Luza as a permanent habitation was achieved at the expense of
abandoning the relatively young Samaritan neighbourhood in Nablus.
TV Just Got
For television viewers in the UK, TV just got better. On Monday,
October 28th, 2002, the television audience watching the British National
Geographic Channel got a brief glimpse of Samaritan-Israelite life. The UK
Channel had a thirty minute special on the Samaritan wedding and funeral.
The program from what I understand was a repeat, shown last February. The
program will air again on
14 November 2002, 8:00 pm and
15 November 2002, 9:00 am . If your in
the UK or plan to travel, take thirty minutes out of your schedule and
enjoy the program. I am unaware of any other country airings of the
program. If you should have any information on the program, please contact
our Editor. The following is their brief description of the program.
MORE WEDDINGS AND ANOTHER FUNERAL :
More Weddings and another Funeral: Samaritan Jews: A thirty minute
program. A light hearted look at Israeli culture through the rituals of
marriage and funerals.
One of the smallest and oldest religious sects in the world, the
Samaritans number only 650 people. The wedding ritual has changed little
over the centuries. Witness a 3000-year-old tradition.
We would like to thank you for
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education of the existence and history of the Samaritan-Israelites,
descendants of the ancient Kingdom of Israel. Recently we have
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visiting us at
The-Samaritans.com . Take care and may you be blessed from the Holy One from above.