April 2006  

Vol.  V - No.5

In This Issue

  • Real Samaritans

  • Directions

  • Pilgrimage

  • Photo News

  • Sacrifice

  • Calendar

  • Har Greizim

  • Ramla

  • Gaza

  • Scrolls

  • Hebrew

  • Geography

  • More Links

  • Videos

  • Books

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Co-Editor: Osher    


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Staff Photographer:    

               Eyal Cohen

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Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals

Samaritan Calendar

of Festivals



Sinai Day: May 31, 2006

Pentecost: June 4, 2006

Festival of the Seventh month: September 22, 2006

Day of Atonement:

October 1, 2006

Succoth: October 6-12, 2006

Festival of the Eight Day: October 13, 2006



Studies and Related Conferences:

In Planning Stage

SES: In University of Papa/ Hungary in 2008.

 organised by Dr. Joseph Zsengelle'



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The Real Samaritans

MT. GERIZIM, Palestinian Territories, April 14, 2006

By CBS News read article &watch the news clip live now


CBS news Poll polled 899 adults randomly in the United States. 14% said they were familiar with the religious Samaritans, 83 % were not familiar with 3% don't know or did not answer.

A note from the Editor: The 14% appears to be a little high, it must be either that these people think they know the Samaritans totally from the Bible or just did not want to admit that they did not know, which sounds American to me (smile). At any rate the poll and article shown on the news was great!


The Samaritans - who broke away from Judaism 2,800 years ago - mark their Passover in the West Bank.



Directions to Orthodoxy

AP - Baz Ratner/ Samaritan Passover sacrifice in photos





Samaritan sect still clings to unique heritage, customs



Pilgrimage on the last day of Unleavened Bread

(Reuters) - Members of the Samaritan sect conduct a pilgrimage march to mark Passover on Mount Gerizim on the outskirts of the West City of Nablus April 18, 2006. The Samaritans, who trace their roots to the northern Kingdom of Israel in what is now the northern West Bank, observe religious practices similar to those of Judaism. REUTERS/ Yonathan Weitzman Yahoo News see more photos at:



Photo News

Nablus, Israel, 11 April 2006 Israelite Samaritans perform their traditional slaughter of the Passover sacrifice ceremony at Mount Gerizim, north of the West Bank town of Nablus April 11, 2006. Samaritans, one of the tribes from northern Israel, now number under 1.000 people in Israel. Inbal Rose/ReflexNews/Photonews Portugal, Brazil, Romania rights Related images.. 17 wonderful photos at http://www.photonews.com.pt/?page=search just type in the search box 'Samaritans' Please contact them for use of their photos for your books and any news article that may require a photo.

Samaritans Praying on Mount Gerizim

Source: Matson Collection


Live Animal Sacrifice

Live animal sacrifices used to be considered a good thing in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Nowadays, most would find it barbaric and archaic. However, there are still some places and peoples who perform this ancient ritual today.
In 1996, I spent a few months traveling the Middle East, in Egypt, Israel/Palestine, and Jordan. Every year around April 22, the Samaritan Passover ceremony is held on Mount Gerizim. This is one day before/after the Jewish Pesach (Passover) holiday. Mount Gerazim is up the hill from Nablus, the largest Palestinian West Bank city. The top of Mt. Gerizim, however, is like a "fourth world" country -- neither Israeli/Jew nor Palastininan/Arab/Muslim. It's a special zone for the ancient Samaritan sect.
Yes, the Samaritans are where we get the phrase "good samaritan" from.
There's only a few hundred Samaratins left. They have a small, urbanized community called Holon near Tel Aviv, and their holy land "reservation" atop Mt. Gerizim.
After a hellish day of hitchhiking and sketchy taxi rides across checkpoints -- from Tiberias on the Sea of Galilee, through Nazareth, dusty and tension-filled Jenin, and finally Nablus -- we hiked and hitched our way to the top of Gerizim. The view was rewarding, overlooking Nablus and a green valley ... Unfortunately, there was no water for sale, and we were parched in the muggy, overcast afternoon. We met up with an American grad student doing a thesis on the Samaritans, and he was able to introduce us to a family who provided us with a jug of well water and a seat to relax. We spoke about the pending ceremony and were told by one of the elder Samaritans that "God always opens a hole in the sky to accept the sacrifice."
Now I'm a reasonably cynical fellow. I don't believe miracles and supernatural happenings are not possible, but when I hear someone telling me they've seen one, well, I just can't help saying "uh huh, sure." We thanked them for the water and went to sit in the spectator seats near the sacrificial grounds.
There was dancing and singing and chanting and guys in some pretty cool outfits. White with brightly colored trim, and nice but simple hats. After an hour or so, there were 48 sheep herded into the sacrifice area. The tension mounted as the goats were held steady for a long time while everything was prepared and checked for perfection. Finally, with one quick and quiet (blink and you'd miss it) group movement, the throats of the sheep were sliced open with daggars. My companion tapped my shoulder and pointed at the sky. Above us, the overcast dusk sky had a cloud break, and a circle of dark blue sky appeared. Hmm.
After the live animal sacrifice, the participants relaxed and the audience began to mill about, taking photos. Fires were lit in the giant pits, and the barbecue began.
Unfortunately, the Samaritans don't share the BBQ meat with outsiders, so unless I come back as a Samaritan in the next life, I won't get a chance to try this unique feast.
Find out more about the Samaritans and Mount Gerizim.
After the ceremony we had to ask around for a ride to Jerusalem, and I'd like to thank the group of American Mormons who let us take a seat on their half-empty air conditioned tour bus -- even though they made us pitch in for gas. http://weirdmeat.com/feed/atom.xml


Jewish Calendar - Hebrew Calendar

In addition, the Samaritans and the Sadducees each had their own calendars. The Samaritan calendar fixes the first day of the month by the conjunction of the moon with the sun, not by the new moon, and their months are numbered, not named. Although the Samaritan calendar adds an extra month for leap years seven times in a 19-year cycle like the Jewish calendar, unlike the Jewish calendar, months are not added or intercalated at set intervals. Even the Jews of certain communities didn't always follow the calendrical rulings of rabbis. For instance, the Syrian Jews of Antioch from 328 C.E. to 342 C.E. always celebrated Pesach or Passover in March, regardless of rabbinical calendrical rulings in Palestine.



The Shomronim. A Brief Glimpse on Har Greizim

by Jameel @ The Muqata

A Shomronim "mezuza" -- a pasuk from the Torah hung on the wall inside the house. Guess I shouldn't call it the "Torah" because its not really the same as Judaism's. Well maybe the same, but they are a different religion.

Living on Har Greizim, overlooking Shechem lives a small community of the Shomronim/Samaritans. Since this topic came up on a different blog, I decided to write a quick summary of my trip their last sukkot. They don't live that far from the Muqata -- and it was easy getting there. Well, easy if you carry an M16, and have rock-proof windows, but I don't consider that a big deal.

The Shomronim are the descendants of the Kuttim, whe were brought to Eretz Yisrael from Kutta, as part of an Assyrian policy of trans-migration, after the destruction of the Kingdom of Israel (10 tribes), 150 years before the first Beit Hamikdash was destroyed (Melachim II 17:24). The Shomronim originally converted to Judaism because of fear of lions that attacked them, but were eventually rejected by the Jewish people and deemed to be non-Jewish (see Chulin 6a; Even Ha’ezer) .

There are 2 communities of Shomronim living today in Israel; one community in Holon (near Tel-Aviv), and one on Har Greizim, overlooking Shechem. Next door is the Jewish town of Har Bracha, and there isn;t that much interaction between the 2 communities. One's Jewish, one's Samaritan -- yet its eerie that there can be so many familiarities between them, yet they are still different religions. The Shomronim community in Holon wishes it could integrate more with Israeli society, and say they are part of "Adat Yisrael" -- but they aren't Jewish, and it just causes problems of intermarriage (as if we don't have enough problems in Israel as is). Continued--



Samaritans in Ramla and surrounding area

Communities of Samaritans lived in Ramla and its surroundings many generations prior to the founding of the city. There are several archeological remnants left from them. East of Ramla, In 1949, in SHAALVIM located in Ayalon valley, ruins of a Samaritan synagogue were uncovered probably from the 5th or 6th century.
In the floor is a mosaic with a verse from the Torah written in Samaritan writing resembling biblical Hebrew. Also embeded in the mosaic is an image of the MENORAH, remnants of greek writtings and a drawing of what seems to be the GRIZIM mountain that is sacred to the Samaritans.
The Samaritans who apparently came from the near area, settled in Ramla when the city was founded. Other communities of Samaritans are known to have lived in the villages TZAFRIA and BEIT-DAGON at the time of the Arab rule.
One Samaritan, a resident of TZAFRIA played an important role in the governing of Ramla and due to his kindness with the people was named "The Savior".
It was Heslig & Kims conquering in 1071 and later by the crusaders in 1099 that apparently terminated the Samaritan settlement in Ramla.



The Jewish Community in the Gaza District:

With Napoleon's invasion, Gaza was the first to fall. Napoleon had been known to be a friend to the Jews and invaded Palestine in order to reestablish the Jewish state. But the Jews weren't convinced of his actions, and reports from Gaza noted the terrible abuse the local Jews were suffering at the hands of the French soldiers, at times joined by the local Arabs who had, long ago, become more fanatical. They, therefore, fled in numbers, mostly to Hebron. Some Jews remained in Gaza for several more years afterwards, however, but owing to continued Arab persecutions, even they fled, settling in Jerusalem. By the first decade of the 19th century, the old Jewish community had vanished. Several years later, the Arabs expelled the small Samaritan community. From that time until the late 1870s, no Jew or Samaritan would dare live in the city. The area from the River of Egypt to Jaffa was given over to swamps, and Arab marauders and bandits. http://english.katif.net/index.php?id=1435&sub=13 (Napoleon entered Gaza in 1798/9.)


The Scrolls of the Dead Sea - 6.1 Introduction

Another version of the Old Testament (or better of the Pentateuch) is used by the small Samaritan community living at Nablus in Jordan. The oldest manuscript of this text dates from the eleventh century AD. It differs from the Massoretic text in 6000 places but most are orthographic or syntactic variations with some supplements to correct deficiencies, some repetitions, the removal of obscurities, and the insertion of explanations. The substantial differences were introduced to conform to the doctrine of the sect. However the Samaritan text is definitely more readable and closer to the Septuagint. The text of the fragments of the Pentateuch found in the fourth cave of Qumrān is closer to the Samaritan version that to any others. This only means that the Samaritan community's version of the Pentateuch is based on a text dating from the fifth century BC when their community was founded, and that it has not changed much since the second century. It would be wrong to throw away the Massoretic text but, when the Samaritan text is clearer, it should be taken into consideration too. It is really strange that such an Orthodox Jewish sect, as that of Qumrān, has chosen, for their Bible, the text produced 200 years before by the heretical Samaritan sect. All the Qumrān biblical texts do not follow strictly one version only, even if the Massoretic was predominant. They seem to have made a free choice of which sacred scriptures to adopt, whereas their later brothers at Murabba'at, sixty years later, followed closely the Massoretic tradition. In Qumrān they did not hesitate to correct the text when its reading was difficult, or to adapt it to the belief of the time.



Ancient Jewish Art in North Africa and Its Religious Significance

by Baruch Kanael



Descriptive Geography and Brief Historical Sketch of Palestine.

The Passover Sacrifice קרבן פסח Among the Samaritans, the Ancient Cutheans of 2 Kings 17.

By Rabbi Joseph Schwarz, 1850

I have to remark something which strikes me as peculiar among them. They call God Ashima, and they use this term whenever the name of God is to be pronounced in the Bible or their speech. But this word Ashima occurs in 2 Kings 17:30, as the idol of the men of Chamath (not of the Cutheans, who worshipped Nergal), which first was, according to Talmud Sanhedrin, 63 b, in the shape of a goat. The modern Cutheans are, however, of a mixed class, as they employ an image resembling a bird, much like a dove (see Chulin, 6 a), which is carved of wood, and put on the top of their rolls of the law which are written in the Syriac (Samaritan character), and out of which they read a short passage every Sabbath somewhat after the fashion of our modern reformers. The just-cited passage of the Talmud avers that Nergal, the idol of the Cutheans, was a cock, a bird, therefore, having nothing in common with the goat; and as nevertheless the Samaritans use the word Ashima, which denoted the goat, the idol of the Camatheans, it proves that they are of a mixed descent, and not pure Cutheans merely. http://www.shechem.org/machon/schwarz/palestine/cutheans.html


Editor's comments: To bad this Rabbi did not take the time to talk to A Samaritan-Israelite and learn that what he wrote here above was incorrect information. Please see the following links for the real truth.



Thoughts of A Karaite: Yohanan Shalom Jacobson in  http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/ February 12th, 2004  

Myths about the Samaritans http://www.thesamaritanupdate.com/ January 2nd, 2003


Used Square Hebrew Characters.

From the time of Ezra, however, the scribes occupied themselves also with plans for raising Judaism to a higher intellectual plane. They were, consequently, active in reviving the use of Hebrew, which had been to a great extent forgotten during the exile in Babylon, and in giving it a more graceful and suitable script. As to the latter, it is stated that the Torah had first been written in Hebrew characters; then, in the time of Ezra, in characters called "ketab ashshuri" (probably = "ketab suri" = Syrian or Aramean script; comp. Kohut, "Aruch Completum," s.v. ), the present square type, the former script being left to the "Hedyoṭot," that is, the Cutheans or Samaritans (Sanh. 21b-22a). It is evident that the scribes, in making this change, wished to give the Torah a particularly sacred character in distinction to the Samaritan Pentateuch. The term "ketab ashshuri" is explained by one authority as meaning "the even writing" (Yer. Meg. i. 71b), as contrasted with the forms of the ancient Hebrew or Samaritan characters.



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All is not fine when traditions are altered

I am under no illusion that the Passover Seder as it has emerged over the centuries bears a limited similarity to biblical celebrations. One need only attend a Samaritan Passover to notice how the Jewish celebration has grown and changed.



Passover and the Ignored Liberation
FrontPageMagazine.com | April 12, 2006 By Andrew G. Boston

The Muslim historian Baladhuri (d. 892 C.E.), maintained that 30,000 Samaritans and 20,000 Jews lived in Caesarea alone just prior to the Arab Muslim conquest; afterward, all evidence of them disappears. Archaeological data confirms the lasting devastation wrought by these initial jihad conquests, particularly the widespread destruction of synagogues and churches from the Byzantine era, whose remnants are still being unearthed. The total number of towns was reduced from fifty-eight to seventeen in the red sand hills and swamps of the western coastal plain (i.e., the Sharon). http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=21997




White Robes, Blue Jeans

The Samaritans, The world's smallest and most ancient people, are caught between
The State of Israel and the Palestinian Autority. They are a religious community of less than 700 people, who continue to maintain their traditions and rituals, dating back to biblical times, including the Passover sacrifice. This film follows the lives of two young Samaritan couples as they face the challenges of the modern world against the backdrop of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Produced with the Support of: National Geographic. Israel, 2002, Video, 52 Min. Hebrew (English sub).



Video Š The Samaritans, the Promise Keepers

Produced for the first time, this is a 30 minute film in English by the company Israel Vision in Jerusalem and the AB Institute of Samaritan Studies that tells the Samaritan story, focusing on the main festival of the year, the Passover sacrifice. Shown in the background is the everyday Samaritan life, customs and heritage. A beautiful gift for all ages. Price $40 US plus $10 shipping.



Religions of the world videos

From Jerusalem to Mecca, (The sons of Abraham), Cine & Tele Productions, Belgium, 1987.
1 videocassette, 27 min.
One of 13 programs about the diverse religious and cultural groups descendent from Abraham. The program looks at the significance of the Holy City of Jerusalem, and at the groups which coexist within its walls. The ancient Samaritan sect, the strict Hassidim, Greek Orthodox, Armenian and Coptic Christians, and Muslims are shown participating in religious ceremonies. Briefly describes the customs, symbols, and holy places sacred to these groups.
A10807373 (Level: US)



Israel: Sounds in Search of a Home

What is Israeli music? What do the music of ....the Samaritans

51 min., #788, Color, $29.95



Jesus in the Holy Land

In seven episodes the directors ingeniously portray the parallels between the gospels of Jesus and the contemporary ways of life and religious practice of Christians, Jews, Samaritans, and Moslems living in the Land today. Video









The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria, Volume 1
Early Iron Age through the Ninth Century B.C.E.
Harvard Semitic Studies - HSS 44 by Ron E. Tappy Harvard Semitic Museum, 1992
295 pages, English Cloth ISBN: 1555407706 Your Price: $44.95


The Archaeology of Israelite Samaria, Volume 2 Harvard Semitic Studies - HSS 50 by Ron E. Tappy Harvard Semitic Museum, 2001 xxxi + 668 pages, English Cloth
ISBN: 1575069164 List Price: $89.95 Your Price: $83.65



A Day of Gladness: The Sabbath Among Jews and Christians in Antiquity (Hardcover) by Herold Weiss "The origins of the Sabbath are unavailable to us due to the lack of adequate sources..." 288 pages, University of South Carolina Press. ISBN 1570034680

Book Description
In A Day of Gladness, Herold Weiss compares the ways in which Christians and Jews of antiquity viewed the Sabbath. Rather than attending to the minutiae of its observance among Jews or its connection with Sunday observance among Christians, he examines major extant texts for the fundamental religious concerns of their authors and communities, particularly how those concerns shaped their thoughts about the Sabbath. Weiss contends that the wide spectrums of theological beliefs illustrate the internal diversities of these two faiths as well as their commonalities.

To explore Jewish perspectives, Weiss looks to the Rabbinic and Qumranic texts, Samaritan texts, and the writings of Philo and of Josephus. To illumine early Christian attitudes, he offers analyses of the Synoptic Gospels, the Gospels of John and Thomas, and the letters to the Galatians, the Romans, the Hebrews, and the Colossians. Weiss uses each text as a window upon the sociological constructs and theological perspectives figuring in early Jewish and Christian thought about worship and rest. He suggests that such perspectives reflect larger theological postures because, as an element of the creation story, the Sabbath became an important cosmological fixed point and a source of eschatological speculation.

With insights gained from his examination of the texts, Weiss identifies the concerns animating Sabbath disputes. He marks out in the beliefs of Jews and early Christians overarching similarities between the two faiths as well as variations within each.



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