April 26, 2008

West Bank Samaritans Mark Passover with Blood and Fire

According to WikiPedia, the Samaritans (Hebrew: שומרונים‎ Shomronim), (Arabic: السامريون‎) known in the Talmud as Kuthim (Hebrew: כותים‎), are an ethnic group of the Levant. Ethnically, they are descended from a group of Israelite inhabitants that have connections to ancient Samaria from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the beginning of the Christian Era. The Samaritans, however, derive their name not from this geographical designation, but rather from the term שַמֶרִים (šāmĕrı̂m), "keeper [of the law]".

Religiously, they are the adherents to Samaritanism, a religion based on the Torah. Samaritans claim that their worship (as opposed to mainstream Judaism) is the true religion of the ancient Israelites, predating the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem.
As of November 1, 2007, there were 712 Samaritans according to their tally living almost exclusively in Kiryat Luza on the holy Mount Gerizim near the city of Nablus (Shechem) in the West Bank, and in the city of Holon in Israel.

Via West Bank Samaritans Mark Passover with Blood and Fire:
Men chant in ancient Hebrew over the sheep, their white garments and knives lit by the fading dusk as they ready a sacrifice for the God of Israel in the heart of the West Bank. The faithful are Samaritans, a community of 710 people who trace their lineage to the ancient Israelites Moses led out of Egypt, an event they remember every year on a grassy hilltop on Mount Gerizim near Nablus - in a region known to Jews as Samaria. Over the years, their numbers dwindled from 1.5 million in the fifth century AD to fewer than 150 in 1917. The Samaritans' fortunes started improving under the British Mandate, when colonial officials sought to rescue the community they associated with the "Good Samaritan" parable.