January 30th, 2003


In this Issue:

  • Scribe of the Pentateuch in Wyoming Identified

  • The Last Samaritans

  • Call For Papers

  • Forbidden Lore

  • The Karaite Encyclopedia

  • Robert Young's Booklets


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Scribe of the Pentateuch in Wyoming Identified

   By the Editor

   The scribe of the Samaritan Pentateuch in the University of Wyoming Library that we wrote in the last SU, has been identified by Benyamim Tsedaka to be Tahor b. Yaacov el-Sirrawi Hadinfi. Tahor, a fruitful writer/composer was imprisoned by the Turkish Rule in Palestine. He died at a young age in 1916 and was buried somewhere in the Musrara Moslem cemetery in Jerusalem. He composed many hymns for the Samaritan liturgy and was an excellent writer. Recently  some of his hymns were found in the Hebrew Union College Cincinnati  that never came out.

   Benyamim Tsedaka informs us that, "there are some scribes you can identify their special style of writing for many manuscripts written by them and sold by our priests in the first half of the 20th century to many American visitors to the old Samaritan neighborhood in Nablus. Many of that kind are in the University of Pennsylvania, Anneberg Institute, JTS , Colombia in New York and HUC Cincinnati. Some of those collections became larger due to private peoples' contributions of Samaritan Manuscripts from their own that they bought in Nablus. Thahor b. Yaacob ElSirrawi despite his young age has copied many as a kind of income by selling them to the priests or just fulfilling their demands of a copy for sale. His writing is very special and easy to identify."  
   Osher Sassoni finds the dating of the book to be in the year 3553 since Israel entered the Holy Land. Today, in relation to this is 3641. The date correlates to 1914 (Christian counting), while the Islamic counting would be 1335 (its appears to be a mistake with this counting of one year,  depending on which month it was written ).  The dating, written by Tahor is in Arabic.

  Thanks to Ann Lane, we now know the location of another Samaritan manuscript, that written by Thahor b. Yaacob ElSirrawi. Ann is the Faculty Curator of Rare Books at the Toppan Library, American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming, Laramie, WY. http://www.uwyo.edu/ahc/depts/toppan/toppan.htm  

The Last SAMARITANS  Between Palestine and Israel

  In 1997 Matei Glass was photographing for a magazine during the time of the Passover Sacrifice on Mount Gerizim. As a professional documentary photographer, Matei's work with the Shomronim was extensive. His wonderful collection of photos of the Samaritans before and during the sacrifice is  outstanding and can be obtained for collectors and or publications. Check out the black and white images from his photo collection on the net for a sample of his work. It is well worth the time to view these masterpieces. Really a nice Matei! http://www.antialias.com/morivati/paradox/index.htm

Call For Papers
International Conference: Mandaean and Samaritan Literatures in Memoriam of Rudolph Macuch Freie Universität

Berlin, 1-2 October 2003

Dear colleague,
   It is a pleasure for us to invite you to participate at the International Conference, which will be held in the memory of Rudolf Macuch (1919-1993) ten years after his death in Berlin from October 1 to 2, 2003. The conference will focus on the fields, on which Rudolf Macuch has reached international recognition, i.e., Mandaean and Samaritan Studies. Please let us know the title of your paper before February 15, 2003 because we intend to apply for grants at least for the participants from Eastern Europe. Looking forward to seeing you in Berlin.
Prof. Dr. Rainer Voigt

Prof. Dr. Maria Macuch


Zweiter Rundbrief
International Conference:
Mandäische und samaritanische Literatur zum
Gedenken an Rudolf Macuch
Berlin, 1.-2. Oktober 2003

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren!
   Im nächsten Juli jährt sich der zehnte Todestag von Rudolf Macuch (1919-1993), des bedeutenden Erforschers der mandäischen und samaritanischen Sprache und Literatur. Ihm zu Ehren möchte deshalb das Seminar für Semitistik und Arabistik, an dem er bis 1992 gelehrt hat, in Zusammenarbeit mit dem Institut für Iranistik eine Gedenkkonferenz abhalten. Auf dieser Tagung sollen insbesondere die beiden Fachgebiete, mit denen sich Rudolf Macuch am intensivsten beschäftigt hat, nämlich der Mandäistik und der Samaritanistik, im Mittelpunkt stehen. Wenn Sie ein Thema zu einem der beiden Gebiete
haben, über das Sie gerne berichten möchten, wären wir Ihnen sehr dankbar, wenn Sie uns bis Mitte Februar 2003 den Titel mitteilen könnten. Dies ist insoweit wichtig, weil wir uns um einen Zuschuß bemühen wollen. Insbesondere ist es geplant, den Teilnehmern aus Osteuropa mit einem Reisekostenzuschuß eine Teilnahme an der Konferenz zu ermöglichen. Eine formlose Anmeldung erbeten wir auch für den Fall, daß Sie ohne eigenen Beitrag an der Tagung teilnehmen möchten. Die Konferenz soll von 1. bis 2. Oktober 2003 in Clubhaus der Freien Universität in Berlin stattfinden. Für die beiden Fachgebiete ist jeweils ein Tag vorgesehen. Weitere Informationen werden wir Ihnen in
einem weiteren Brief zukommen lassen.
Wir hoffen auf ein zahlreiches Erscheinen und ein gutes Gelingen der Tagung. Mit freundlichen Grüßen
Prof. Dr. Rainer Voigt

Prof. Dr. Maria  Macuch

Forbidden Lore

   In the last year, Turkish officials have been acting aggressively towards the Samaritan community, hindering them and interrupting their religious practices. Rumor has it that this change in attitude come from a European visitor who has befriended the local Turkish Governor. This traveler from Europe, Bian de Torres, is in fact a man possessed by an evil spirit, who is slowly losing control of himself. Formerly a devout man, de Torres has managed to bring himself to Palestine in order to seek a cure to his mysterious "illness," but he now only has control of his body and mind a couple of hours each day, when the the evil spirit inhabiting his body is at rest. The spirit unknowingly serves the Red Death, who seeks to make de Torres one of his minions once he is completely possessed. http://www.kargatane.com/crossroads/shechem.html

Compiled from: The Karaite Encyclopedia (Frankfurt, 1995)

by Nathan Schur.

Firkovich, Abraham (1786­1874) - Firkovich Collections

   Both Firkovich collections were sold by him to the St Petersburg library. It is debatable to what an extent the first one had really been his property, as it had been acquired on behalf of the Karaites of the Crimea with funds supplied mainly by Simha Babovich. By selling it (in 1862), Firkovich became a man of means. The second collection was sold after his death. Both are now in the Saltykov­Schedrin Public Library in St Petersburg.

   In the first collection are to be found the manuscripts of his earlier travels 1830 to Cairo, Jerusalem, Hebron; 1831 to Istanbul and 1839 in the Crimea. The second, even richer, collection is the result of his last trip to Egypt and Palestine in 186315. Together they number over 15000 manuscripts.Most of them are Karaite documents, but some 1350 are Samaritan and were purchased in Nablus in 1864.Further, there are also Rabbanite manuscripts."le the Cairo Geniza consisted mostly of single, often badly tom pages, the Firkovich collection consists mostly of complete documents. Thus the 1350 Samaritan documents consist of 18,258 pages. It is therefore highly unlikely that, as has often been suggested, also much of the Firkovich collections originated in the Fustat synagogue named for Ezra the Scribe, where S. Schechter and others found later "the" Geniza. Actually that part of the collections which came from Cairo was obtained from the local Karaite synagogues and Firkovich donated in 1864 to the local Karaite community the then princely sum of £ 200, and received four large boxes of manuscripts, which might have originated in the then decrepit Reb Simha synagogue. In Nablus he obtained ten boxes of Samaritan manuscripts and Torah Scrolls. Under the Soviet regime the collections were reorganized into 14 departments, given new numbers and supplied with a detailed catalogue and card index, in which also articles are mentioned.                                                                             http://www.turkiye.net/sota/karaiwho.htm  

Robert Young's Booklets
Call No.: B892.5 YOU.2 (Box)
By: Young, Robert.
Book: Samaritan root-book: containing all the roots in the Samaritan language/
Publ.: -Edinburgh, George Adam Young & Co., [n.d.].
Subject data: Samaritan literature - Lexicography
Call No.: B892.5 YOU.1 (Box)
By: Young, Robert.
Book: Paradigms of the Samaritan verbs: regular and irregular/
Publ.: -Edinburgh, George Adam Young & Co., [n.d.].
Subject data: Samaritan literature - Lexicography



   The sixth room is dedicated to Jordan and to the excavations carried on by the Institute at Mount Nebo, at the Memorial of Moses and in the town of Nebo. At the Memorial of Moses, the spot is called Siyagha by the Arabs of the region, the excavations were directed by Fr. S. Saller (1933-1937), Fr. V. Corbo (1963-1970) and Fr. M. Piccirillo (since 1976). The exhibition on the left wall shows pottery of different periods, and fragments of two Samaritan inscriptions, found during the excavations of the Sanctuary. http://www.christusrex.org/www1/ofm/sbf/SBFmsm.html


    Still today some of the Samaritans will make a Pilgrimage to Mount Nebo to pay their respects to Moses and to Aaron's tomb near Petra. Shomron (Photo by Shomron, 2000, The view from Mount Nebo, Click on the image for a larger view.)

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