What to See

Have you met a Samaritan?! The answer in Mt. Gerizim

Probably the first thing that comes to one’s mind is the Good
Samaritan
mentioned in the Bible. But have you ever asked yourself if you
have met one or he/she is more than a biblical figure!!! The answer is simply:
mount Mt. Gerizim and discover for yourself!

The Samaritan community is considered one of the oldest
religious communities in the world, yet also one of the smallest; today with
less than 800 faithful. The majority of the community lives in Mount Gerizim, Jarzim
in Arabic, near the city of Nablus in the West Bank and the others in Holon, a
suburb of Jaffa-Tel Aviv. The head of the community is the Samaritan High
Priest, who is selected by age from the priestly family, and resides on Mount
Gerizim.

The mountain has special sanctity for Samaritans, who
consider it the first place of land created by God (Har Hakedem means “
the First Mountain”). They also believe that Adam was created from the earth of
this mountain and that this was also the sole site spared in the Flood. Samaritans
also revere Mount Jarzim as the “original” site of the Sacrifice of Isaac an event
celebrated on the feast of the Passover every year.

The Samaritan religion is based on some of the same books
used as the basis of mainstream Judaism, but differs from the latter. Samaritan
scriptures include the Samaritan version of the Torah, the Memar Markah, the
Samaritan liturgy, and Samaritan law codes and biblical commentaries.
Samaritans appear to have texts of the Torah as old as the Masoretic Text and
the Septuagint.

Aside from their religious traditions, Samaritans have the same
secular traditions as Palestinian Arabs

One of the biggest problems facing the community today is
the issue of continuity.  With such a
small population, divided into only four families (Cohen, Tsedakah, Danfi and
Marhib) and a general refusal to accept converts, there has been a history of
genetic disease within the group due to the small gene pool.  To counter this, the Samaritan community has
recently agreed that men from the community may marry non-Samaritan women,
provided that the women agree to follow Samaritan religious practices including
the strict interpretation of Biblical (Levitical) laws regarding menstruation,
by which they must live in a separate dwelling during their periods and after
childbirth.  In addition, Marriage often
comes in the form of barter or “swap” which means when a Samaritan
man marries he has to give his sister or his daughter (if any) to his wife’s
guardian (her father or brother) instead.

All  the Samaritan community of Nablus live nowadays in the village on Mt. Jarzim. Inside the village you can visit the center for Samaritan Studies and the Samaritan museum offering you an opportunity to obtain further information on the community and its
religious creed.

Just outside the village, a pathway will leads you to Tel
er-Ras, a historical site where a Samaritan temple was built commemorating the site
of the Sacrifice of Isaac and where a Byzantine church was built later, the
foundation of which are still clearly visible.

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