URI MENA Cultural Café- 34 Session
Last Saturday, 12 Dec. 2020, URI Cultural Café session was on Samaritans minority in Palestine. Mr. Emran Al- Kahen and Mr. Raja’i Al- Teef (two community leaders from the Samaritans community) introduced Samaritans’ history, faith and culture.
Samaritans refer to themselves as Benai Yisrael (Children of Israel), they derive from the biblical tribes of Menashe and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph who lived over 3000 years ago. They follow the traditions of Ancient Israel, without the later additions made by Jewish sages. They descent from Israelites from before the Assyrian exile of 722 BCE. Their sole norm of religious observance is the Pentateuch. They are Arabic speakers who use Aramaic as a liturgical language. Samaritans are practicing an ancient religion that is a variation of Judaism, but also shares some similarities with Islam.
Almost half of the 900 Samaritans live in the village of Kiryat Luza, near Nablus and their holy site of Mount Gerizim. They claim that Mount Gerizim is the highest, oldest and most central mountain in the world. It is the holiest site in the Old Testament, not Jerusalem.
Samaritans living in the Palestinian controlled territory of the West Bank are fully integrated in society. They had a reserved seat in the Palestinian Legislative Council in the election of 1996, but they no longer have one. Samaritans have managed to maintain a position of neutrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
To watch the recording of the session, click the below link