May 22nd, 2003


In This Issue

  • Status of the Priests

  • An Article in the Jerusalem Report

  • Samaritan Graves in Tel Aviv 

  • The Asatir

  • A Note  From the Editor

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The High Court of Justice announces:

"The Status of the Priests of the Samaritan Community will be Comparable to the Status of the Jewish Rabbis"

By Osher Sassoni

The Status of  Samaritan-Israelite priests Assaf Cohen and Abraham Cohen, both cantors in the Samaritan Synagogue in Holon will be like the status of the Jewish Rabbis, according to the decision of the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem, Israel early this month. The appeal  to the panel of three judges in the High Court, to compare the status of the Samaritan Priests to the status of the neighboring Jewish Rabbis in Israel, was made by the High Priest of the Samaritans of blessed memory Levi Ben Aviah, Yefet son of  Ab Hisda the elder priest of Holon, and representatives from the Institute of A. B. Samaritan Studies. After a two year struggle by Professor Michael Corinaldi, the solicitor and representative of the priests, the High Court decided that the two cantors of  the two synagogues in Holon will receive a salary of part-time job of a usual Jewish Rabbi that belongs to the  Ministry of Religion. It  was indicated in petition #3686/99 by Mr Corinaldi, that the Samaritans numbers were 630 souls,  about half of them in Holon and the other part on Mount Gerizim. The sons of the community are Israeli citizens, with all rights, who serve in the Israeli Defense Forces, and fulfill the same duties as every citizen in Israel. "The Samaritan Community is not a separated community, but it manages their own religious issues separately. The priests of the community use the official marriage and divorce document notebooks of the Ministry of Religion, and sign those documents for the Census registration office in Israel." From now on every one of them will get a salary of 3,000 NIS (shekels, about $750 USD) along with social bonuses, though each one of them has another job. The High Court of Justice also determined the the Ministry of Religion will pay another 5,000 NIS for the court fees.

An Article in the Jerusalem Report From the Editor

Recently the Jerusalem Report magazine hosted an photographical article by Micah Walter, entitled A Defiant, Spirited Feast. The May 19th, 2003 issue is based on this past Passover Sacrifice on Mount Gerizim. Micah Walter contacted and made arrangements with our Osher Sassoni concerning the feast. We were happy to help the photo journalist Micah Walter on his project. Mr. Walter has his wonderful article posted at the following web site: . Wonderful job Micah!!!

If you would like to have the Jerusalem Report, May 19, 2003, you can contact their office at : or in the USA, you can phone Christina Lombillo, Circulation Associate for the Jerusalem Post office in Miami, Florida: 305.441.7155, ext. 237.

Samaritan Graves in Tel Aviv 

Article and Photo By Guy Tsabary

In the northern border of Tel Aviv, near the most prestigious neighborhoods in Israel, there is a small ancient site of Samaritan tombs. I read an article about it on the Internet, and I decided to go see it for myself. This site seems to be a cemetery of an ancient Samaritan settlement of H'irbat El-U'ra, located not far from the property of "Hakfar Hayarok" boarding school. (Photo: The entrance to the grave tombs.)

At the entrance of the ancient site, there is an old sign posted by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, that says: “Tel Baruch, A Samaritan Cemetery,” although the putative name of the site is called the "Afeka Caves". The site held Samaritan (and maybe also Jewish) tombs from the 4-5 centuries. The burials stopped here after the failed Samaritan Rebellion in 529 C.E.

The site was first exposed when the Tel-Aviv-Haifa Railway was under construction in 1951-1952. The late archeologist, Yaakov Kaplan excavated the site. Further excavates were performed in 1989, during the building of the main Ayalon Highway.

The site contains eight tomb-caves with yards and steps, with benches that were hewn in to the rock. Burial Stones were also founded there. From the yards there is an entrance to the burial halls that contains niches, where the coffins were placed inside.  Many tools were found in the tombs including crocks and coins from the 4-5 centuries. A special find was a bronze amulet with Samaritan writing of truncated verses. The excavated discoveries are today located in the Tel Aviv Antiques Museum.

The site it totally abandoned, and the entrance to it is complicated, but worth seeing this wonderful site of history.

Section from the  Moses Gaster's

The Asatir, the Samaritan Book of the Secrets of Moses,

Together with the Pitron or Samaritan Commentary

Written and translated by Moses Gaster, 1927. London, Published by the Royal Asiatic Society. Page 223 and 225.

And Nimrod did unto Arpachshad just as Pharaoh did unto the Hebrews. For at that time, they had seen in the Book of Signs which had been handed down to them, that there would arise a man who would smite everyone who worshipped idols, and he would destroy them. And he gathered all the wise men from the children of Ham and the children of Japhet. And he asked of them, that they should tell him of the day of the birth of that man; and they told him that within forty days his mother would become pregnant with him. Then the Nimrod commanded that every man of all the sons of Arpachshad, should keep himself separated from his wife for the number of forty days. And they imprisioned all the men in one place and the women in another place separately. And it came to pass after thirty of the above mentioned days that the Lord revealed a sign in the land of Shinear, and it was a pillar of fire which came down from heaven to earth. And all the inhabitants thereof were frightened with a great fear, and they made prayers in the house of their worship unto the idols, and they went out unto a field outside the town and they remained there three days, and the name (of God)- may He be exalted- gave them work and they forgot the imprisoned ones. And in that time the master Terah went by a vision of the Lord and slept with his wife, he returned to the prison and the sign was lifted.

And when the wizards saw that the sign had been lifted, they said, "The child hath reached the womb of its mother;" and they told Nimrod so. And he said, "Bring out all the prisoners  unto their places." And they did so, and every man went to his place as he had commanded.

After this was born our master Abraham- on whom be peace- by the might of the All-powerful. And it came to pass when he grew up, that Nimrod took him and placed him under his command, and he was among those who stood before him, to wait on him. And after that, he took him and cast him into the fire, but the fire could not burn our master Abraham, for God protected him, for the sake of the master of the flesh who was to come out of his lions, and also for his righteousness. Behold what God said unto him, "I am the Lord, who brought you out from Ur (furnace) Kasdim.

When he saw that the fire had no power over him, Haran said, "He is a great wizard and his witchcraft prevents the fire from burning him." Then the fire came out and consumed Haran. See what is said about him in the Holy Law, "And Haran died before the face of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur Kasdim!" (Gen. II. 28) And when Nimrod and his company saw that the fire had come forth and had consumed Haran, the fear of God came upon them, and they were frightened lest it should come out upon them and consume them also. And the Nimrod commanded that the master Abraham should come out- Praised be He, Who performeth signs and wonders, the One Who keepeth the Covenant and the mercy to those who love Him! (1880 Photo of Samaritan women, added)

2002 NATPE Media Content Directory  on page 3 lower left corner

Samaritans: Lost People Of The Bible 50 minutes. Genre: Documentary Availability: Worldwide Synopsis: From the myths and legends of the biblical past to the quest of the present, the program explores the mystery of the Samaritans.

A Note  From the Editor

I recently acquired, The Jews and the Israelites: Their Religion, Philosophy, Traditions, and Literature, in Connection With Their Past and Present Condition, and Their Future Prospects by Rev. C. Freshman, D.D., Toronto; A. Dredge &Co., 1870. Dr. Freshman, in his book of 456 pages, devotes only three pages to the Samaritans. The large majority of his work consists of the Samaritan history. His knowledge of the existence of the Samaritan-Israelites is very brief since he writes in the last line, 'Thus ends their history about the year 575.' From this we find that he felt that the Israelite-Samaritans no longer existed. If he had done his research properly even in his time, he would not have made this incorrect statement. But still today we find similar writings from uneducated people. Freshman also wrote, 'Thus the Cutaei (meaning the Samaritan-Israelites) got, in their opinion, a knowledge of the God of the Israelites, without renouncing their old Gods; stopping between heathenism and Judaism, they formed a ridiculous hybrid, and the Israelites gave them the nickname of the "Lion Converts."' Dr. Freshman obviously felt that all the people in the land of Samaria were all transplants from another land. He had no concept that at that time there was a very large number of Israelites in the north of Israel, of this he wrote nothing.

It is to bad that there are still so many websites that contain incorrect information. It would take a lot of work to try to correct the situation without these people receiving some type of knowledge or instruction.

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