Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Samaritan Village

When I was told we were going to visit the Samaritans, I couldn't help but shiver with excitement. A few years ago, someone told me a spell was put on me by a Samaritan, the masters of spells. Being an Arab, I believed it, that's why I was shivering, and I was curious to know at what this group of people, which, one out of their small group of 750 had "put a spell on me", was all about. Prior to my visit, I met a young Samaritan girl. Her cat like hazel eyes instilled my pre-conceived fears even more, and until my visit, I did not sleep properly.
We got on the bus and up the mountain in Nablus. After a few arguments with Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) followed by persistent reasoning with said forces by members of the Samaritan community, we were allowed through. My visit to Mount Gerizim changed every idea I had of this community. The Samaritans (hence Judea and Samaria) live on top of Mount Gerizim in Nablus (right beside Mounib El-Masri's house). They are a small group - 350 live on this mountain and 400 in a locality near Tel Aviv. They speak Arabic, resemble each other (in-breeding to keep the Samaritan faith alive), attend the university in Nablus, and call themselves "Nabulsies."
Samaritans celebrating passover
Unfortunately, many people inside and outside of Palestine are un-informed about the faith and/or and do not understand it. I don't blame them. The discourse often presents only Judaism, and the Samaritans are silenced. One has to personally seek out the information for themselves. The Samaritans have various differences between them and followers of Judaism, mainly the location of the original holy place: the Samaritans regard Mount Gerizim as the chosen location for the temple, rather than Jerusalem's Temple Mount. It is considered to be the location where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac.
Zarb, cooked underground for a few hours
...and the final delicious product

After a little history courtesy of our guide, we were shown our meal in its final underground stage (zarb). We explored the mountain, met members of the community and then headed towards the dining hall to find the tables filled with plates of zarb, hummus and bread and members of the Samaritan community joining us for dinner.


  1. Great post!
    Love to read about your adventures!
    Keep up the good work

  2. Thanks Danah, I like it. Wanted to read more about this specific visit and group.
    Just out of curiousity, was it Ismail or Isaac to be sacrificed?
    "... is considered to be the location where Abraham was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac."

  3. thanks Seb, means a lot :)
    @Anonymous: Thanks for reading the post, if you're interested in details about the group and visit, let me know, I'll be glad to chat off blog. As for Ishmail vs Isaac, it's Muslim vs Samaritan discourse. Muslims believe Abraham was about to sacrifice Ishmail in Mecca as opposed to the Samaritans who believe it was Isaac to be sacrificed.