The Samaritan Update

November 8th, 2001

A Samaritan man was injured recently. 

   A fifty-year-old Samaritan man was injured in a terrorist attack on the return home on the curved road of Mount Gerizim, near Nablus. He was injured when he and his vehicle were hit by gunfire. He then lost control of his vehicle and was unable to stop at the blockade of an Israeli checkpoint. His advancing vehicle alarmed the Israeli soldiers at the roadblock and they took evasive action, firing at the vehicle. When the car finally stopped, the Israeli soldiers found the Samaritan man with three bullets in his leg and one in his abdomen. It is undetermined at this time, which party inflicted the majority of the wounds, the terrorists or the Israeli Army. His situation at the hospital is critical. Please keep this Samaritan man in your prayers.

The Head of the Ninth month as prescribed in the Torah (the first five books)

Will begin on of the Fifteenth of November.


Tour of Lectures began.   Benyamim Tsedaka left his family in Holon, Israel, on the 28th of October, setting out on a speaking and investigation tour in the USA and Europe. His first stop was in Cincinnati were he gave lectures at the University of Cincinnati. He also called on the Hebrew Union College and catalogued their collection of Samaritan manuscripts. On November 1st, Benny arrived in Washington D.C., where he was involved in political meetings concerning the Samaritan communities access and safety on Mount Gerizim. Cultural meetings with local scholars regarding Samaritan Music were one of Benny’s happy moments, being the director of the vocal group. Lectures were also scheduled lasting till the 5th, where he arrives in St. Louis for more addresses. Then on the 12th Benny travels to Montana to give lectures and speak on Samaritan Music. On the 18th Benny travels back to the east to New York to catalogue the Samaritan manuscript collection at the Jewish Theological Seminary. While they he has been invited to speak at Queen’s College on the Samaritans. Benny flies to LA on the 22nd for more meetings and lectures. Benny has visited the US for many years in order to speak to people regarding the Samaritans-Israelites of Israel.

   On November 29, he travels to Copenhagen to catalogue Samaritan manuscripts in the collection of the University of Copenhagen and has been asked to speak to the staff and the advanced students. Lectures will be given in Berlin and Bielefeld between December 4th and 8th. A busy schedule in Ljubljana between the 9th to the 11th will consist of a Samaritan exhibition involving lectures and meetings with political personal along with addresses the Slovenian media.  On the twelfth, lectures scheduled at the University of Heidelberg, then off to the University of Neremberg. London is the last scheduled stop before Benny heads home on December 20th, where one more political meeting concerning the safety of the Samaritans and Mount Gerizim.

   Benny always enjoys lecturing and meeting people from all walks of life. Benny is co-editor with his brother, Yefet, of the A.B. Samaritan News (biweekly newspaper) that has thousands of subscribers throughout the world. Benyamim co-founded the A.B. Institute of Samaritan Studies in Holon, Israel, that concentrates in four main areas of interest: Education and guidance, Research, Publishing and Searching for literary sources. He is an author of many research papers and wrote for many professional publications, such articles in relation to the Samaritans in the Hebrew Encyclopedia, the Encyclopedia Judaica and the Encyclopedia of Zionism to mention a few. Of his latest works is the book, Summary of the History of the Israelite-Samaritans. Working on the production of many future books, the Samaritan Lexicon, A Selection of Stories from Israeli-Samaritan Folklore, an Abbreviated Samaritan History, A Compendium of Samaritan Rituals and a composition of nineteen Samaritan authors. If you would like Benny to visit your community in the future to speak regarding the Samaritans, please feel free to contact him at:

Remember to buy your copy of the December Issue of National Geographic
containing the article on the Samaritan Passover

Questions concerning the Samaritans

What is the Samaritan Music like?

 Answer:    In 1975, when the composer K. Penderetzki was asked to write a symphony for the central celebration of the 200th anniversary of the United States, he decided to base his work on “Paradise Lost” by John Milton. He began to search for special tones to represent the creation of the world. He felt the appropriate region to find these tones would be the Middle East and particularly, the land of Israel. With the help of colleagues in Israel, he met with representatives of the various Jewish communities in Israel. Finally, a friend of his, Mr. Hanoch Ron, a music critic at one of the largest newspapers in Israel, brought him to the Samaritans, descendants of the ancient nation that has never left the land of Israel. The Samaritan Singers performed the Song of the Sea for him, the song of Miriam the Prophetess, sister of Moses, sung by the children of Israel when they crossed the Red Sea. It took less than two minutes for Penderetzki  to jump up from his seat in enthusiasm, crying out like Archimedes “Eureka! I’ve found it!” The US bicentennial celebrations were indeed opened to the sound of Samaritan notes.

   Musicologists have studied Samaritan music since the beginning of this century. R. Lachman of Vienna and A.Z. Idelson of Jerusalem were the first to make recordings of it. In the 1950’s and 1960’s this was also done by Geshuri, Valbeh, Hoffman, Katz and Herzog. However, the great wave of interest in Samaritan music was sparked off by Penderetzi and his successor today is the well known Israeli composer Noam Sherif, who uses many Samaritan sounds in his works, such as in Tehila LeYerushalayim (Prayer for Jerusalem) and Mechayei Hametim (Resurrection). Concert halls in the US, Europe and Israel have opened their gates wide to concerts of Samaritan music, with independent performances by the Samaritan Singers as well as appearances in programs of ancient and contemporary song and music.

   The uniqueness of Samaritan music is evident from the fact that musicology has found no other music similar to it among known music of the world. The leaning of Samaritan music towards the sources of ancient Israelite music has given it its own unique nature. For scholars, this music is a clear echo of ancient music, which no longer exists. This is particularly interesting in view of the fact that the Samaritans in Israel lived for shorter or longer periods of time under many changing rulers and with the many different peoples who lived in the country, and yet no hint of foreign influence has been found in this music. There is no similarity between this music and Eastern, Western, Christian or Asian music. Professional listeners will be filled with great excitement when they hear the first notes of these unique sounds.

Vocal Music

   Samaritan music is vocal music, unaccompanied by instruments, handed down over the one hundred and thirty generations of the ancient Israelite-Samaritan people in the land of Israel. It has been passed on in two ways:

  1. Through formal study, with every Samaritan boy and girl studying for about an hour a day with Samaritan teachers at the Community Center when they come home from their regular school. They learn reading, liturgy and poetry in ancient Hebrew and in the Aramaic dialect still used today by the Samaritans.
  2. By Participation in prayer services at the Samaritan synagogue every Sabbath and festival.

   Thus the musical tradition is preserved, with its thousand different songs and melodies, some of which are sung in prayer services and secular ceremonies, on Sabbath and festivals and on joyous as well as sorrowful occasions. Some of the songs are handed down directly, a clear echo of ancient Israelite song, some were written by Samaritan composers in the latter half of the first millennium and some in the first half of the second millennium era.

   Samaritan music is in part composed of variations and coloratura phrases, which cannot be followed by the written musical score, but in part has a rhythmic unity, which facilitates writing musical scores and musical arrangements for it. Musicologists have indeed tried their hands at this with varying degrees of success.

    Nonetheless, the uniqueness of Samaritan music still stands out. The performances of the Samaritan Singers emphasize the three most striking features:

1.       LEFT AND RIGHT SINGING: Those who pray in the synagogue, which faces east, are divided into two groups. Members of the first group are known as Rightists, and sit on the right side of the synagogue. Members of the second group are called Leftists and sit on the left side of the synagogue hall. There are prayer hymns with 22 stanzas, the same number as the letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and each verse has four short lines. The Rightists begin to sing the first verse and when they get to the beginning of the third line, the Leftists begin to sing the second verse. In this way all congregants continue singing to the end of the hymn, each side singing its own verses. The Rightists sing the odd-numbered stanzas while the Leftists sing the even-numbered ones. The cantor of the synagogue always joins the Rightists.

2.       TRILLS- ADDING SYLLABLES NOT IN THE TEXT: This is also a characteristic unique to Samaritan music. The singers sing a given version but to embellish the song, they add many phrases not among the syllables comprising the words of the given text. In this manner two words can at times be sung for over two minutes, by adding a variety of syllables and trills which are not part of the text. For example, the word “kamu” from the verse: “the depths have covered them: they sank into the bottom like stone.” (Exodus 15:5) or in ancient Hebrew, “yaradu bammasalot kamu aaben”, is sung just like this: kaaawaanuwwa’awwa’aaawwanuwwa’aamu’oooau’aoo’unwoo’aoo.

3.       SINGING A GIVEN TEXT WITH A VARIETY OF MELODIES: There are many texts that are sung with different melodies according to occasion – secular, Sabbath, festival or pilgrimage. Thus, for example, the Song of the Day can be performed with more than ten different melodies.

Closing the Circle

   The enormous interest of scholars brought about the formation of the Samaritan Singers, a group which began in 1980 to go out into the world and participate in concerts and music festivals in Israel, Europe and the United States, including the annual Musica Sacra International Festival held in Europe and Fifth World’s Symposium of Choral Music held in Rotterdam, The Netherlands [1999]. After an appearance in Marktoberdorf near Munich, Germany [1992], a musicologist approached the leader of the group and introduced herself as a member of a scientific team of musicologists from diverse countries. With tears in her eyes from the powerful emotion she felt, she recounted that for years the research team had been trying to formulate the common music of the future from known forms of music. To her great surprise, the ancient sounds that she heard in the Samaritan Singers, as learned from 130 generations of their forefathers in the land of Israel, were very similar to the common sounds, which the research team had arrived at.

   The sounds of the Samaritan singers can be located at our web site on the main page under ancient music and are downloadable for your listening pleasure. If you would like a cassette or a CD of the Samaritan Singers, please contact Osher at:

 The Samaritan Chronicle Or The Book of Joshua, the son of Nun.
Written by Oliver Turnbull Crane, M.A., 1890, CHAPTER XLIII.


   Discord had arisen between the descendant of Finahas (‘Ozi) and his cousin Ili (Eli), whose name being interpreted means; the insidious. This erring man was of the tribe of Itamar (Ithamar) the brother of el-Azar the imam (Priest). Now the right of administration belonged to the tribe of Finahas (Phinahas), and it was the one which was offering up the sacrifices upon the brazen altar, and stone altar. And this man- the insidious- was fifty years old, and being great in riches had obtained for himself the lordship over the treasure house of the children of Israil (Israel); and he had obtained, through the knowledge of magic, what he had acquired of riches, proud rank and wealth. And his self-importance being great in his own estimation, he gathered to himself a company, and said unto them: “I am one to whom to serve a boy is impossible, and I will not reconcile myself to this, and I hope that ye will not be content to have me do this.” And the company answered him: “We are under thy command, and under obedience to thee: command us in whatsoever thou willest.” And he put them under covenant that they would follow him unto the place where they purposed going on the mourning of the second day (of the week). And he offered up offering on the altar without salt, as if he was ignorant, and immediately started out on the journey with his outfit and company, and cattle, and every thing that he possessed, and settled in Seilun (Shiloh). And he gathered the children of Israil into a schismatical sect, and held correspondence with their leaders, and said unto them: “Whoever desires to behold miracles, let him come unto me.” And there was collected to him a multitude in Seilun, and he built for himself a shrine there, and organized matters for himself in it on the model of the temple, and erected in it one altar, on which he might sacrifice and offer up offerings. And he had two sons, who used to gather the women into the temple in the mourning, and lie with them, and would eat up all that was present of the offerings of wine and other things. And this man continued diverting the people by magic, for the space of forty years; for God-exalted, exalted be He; glorious be His might- delayed this unto him. And there was Shamul (Samuel) of the tribe of Harun (Aaron), the Liwanite (Levite), the magican and the infidel; for his father had delivered him over to him (Eli) when he was four years old, saying unto him: “This is a son whom I have received in fulfillment of a desire, and it occurred suddenly to my mind that this boy ought to serve in this temple throughout the days of his life.” So the erring man received him, and instructed him, and revealed unto him hidden things; and he grew to be as potent in the working of magic as he himself was. And blessed be God who does not punish the rebellious, except after long delay and showing mercy unto them. (This book will soon be found in full at our website.)

Subscribe to the A.B.- The Samaritan News-

Since December 1969.         

A Bi-Weekly Newspaper, written in four languages.

POB 1029, Holon 58 110, Israel or e-mail Benyamim and Yefet Tsedaka at:

Back issues are available.

Books for Sale:

SIDDUR HATFILOT, Prayers for all year round according to the Samaritan customs. The prayers are written in Samaritan script (old Hebrew script). The title pages are in Hebrew. The book was copied and translated by Israel Tsedaka. This book was printed in Israel in 1961. In very good condition. Binding is in very good condition too. 17x24.5 cm. price: $80.00 US dollars, large and thick book, so S&H will cost another $15.00. Contact Chani Kaarlinsky: PRAYERS FOR THE FESTIVALS, written in Hebrew by Israel Tsedaka, $50.00 US dollars, plus shipping, Contact Chani Kaarlinsky:

Thank you! Osher and Larry would like to thank you for visiting the website, We ask that you forward this e-mail to your friends. The purpose at our website is education regarding the existence and history of the Samaritan-Israelites, descendants of the ancient Kingdom of Israel.  Answering questions from surfers will always be our top priority of our site. We try to maintain articles and websites related to the Samaritan-Israelites on the web. Many gracious scholars have permitted us to exhibit their related articles. We try to continue our archives of articles and attempt to be the best location on the net for the advancement of Samaritan-Israelite studies in Hebrew as well as English. Recently we have been working on expanding our website. We do hope you enjoy visiting our site and recommend it to your friends. If you would like the Samaritan Update sent to you, please feel free to e-mail us at Again we thank you for visiting us at . Take care and may you be blessed from the Holy One above.

Our Index of back Issues of the Samaritan Update On the Web