Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Passover 2016. Mount Gerizim, Good Samaritans of Zion and Sacrificial Lambs

Members of the ancient Samaritan community, a breakaway from ancient Israelite tribes, attend a Passover pilgrimage to the religion's holiest site of Mount Gerizim on April 27, 2016.

Samaritan Passover marked by slaughter of the lambs

The Samaritan sect celebrates the holiday of Passover in close adherence to biblical traditions such as sacrificing animals and donning long white robes.

The Samaritans offer their traditional Passover sacrifice, which is their parallel ceremony to the Seder meal observed by the Jews.

The ceremony takes places at the holiest site to the Samaritans, Mount Gerizim, where the majority of believers spend the seven days. During the sacrifice they all wear white, the color of freedom by their religion.

Samaritan worshippers ascend Mount Gerizim in their white robes on April 27, 2016.

When the priest issues the order, all the sheep are slaughtered all at once.

Members of the Samaritan sect take part in a traditional pilgrimage marking the holiday of Passover on Mount Gerizim on April 27, 2016. Abed Omar Qusini/Reuters
Afterwards the Samaritans bless each other and smear their foreheads with blood in memory of the children of Israel who smeared the same on their doorposts so the angel of death would pass over their homes to survive the plague of slaying the firstborn.

Samaritans slaughter sheep and goats at Mount Gerizim in the West Bank as a part of the annual Passover sacrifice, on April 20, 2016.

The sacrificial sheep are cooked and consumed without any side dishes in keeping with the teachings of the ancient Torah.

Samaritans roast the animals after slaughter atop Mt. Gerizim as part of the annual Passover sacrifice, this year's was held on April 20, 2016. 

The Samaritans (Samaritan Hebrew: שוֹמְרִים Samerim "Guardians/Keepers/Watchers [of the Law/Torah]", Jewish Hebrewשומרונים‎ ShomronimArabicالسامريون‎ Sameriyyun) are an ethnoreligiousgroup of the Levant, originating from the Israelites or Hebrews of the Ancient Near East.
The Samaritans are adherents of Samaritanism, an Abrahamic religion closely related to Judaism. Samaritans believe that their worship, which is based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, is the true religionof the ancient Israelites from before the Babylonian Exile, preserved by those who remained in theLand of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they see as a related but altered and amended religion, brought back by those returning from the Babylonian exile.
Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from the Israelite tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (two sons ofJoseph) as well as from the priestly tribe of Levi, who have links to ancient Samaria from the period of their entry into the land of Canaan, while some suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian Exile up to the Samaritan polity of Baba Rabba. Samaritans used to include a line of Benjamin tribe, but it became extinct during the decline period of the Samaritan demographics. The split between them and the Judeans began during the time of Eli the priest when, according to Samaritan tradition, Judeans split off from the central Israelite tradition.
The Samaritans believe that Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of Israel from the time thatJoshua conquered Israel. The major issue between Rabbinical Jews (Jews who follow post-exile rabbinical interpretations of Judaism, who are the vast majority of Jews today) and Samaritans has always been the location of the chosen place to worship God; Jerusalem according to the Jewish faith or Mount Gerizim according to the Samaritan faith.
In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Judaism, the Samaritans are called Cutheans(Hebrewכותים‎, Kutim), referring to the ancient city of Kutha, geographically located in what is todayIraq. In the biblical account, however, Cuthah was one of several cities from which people were brought to Samaria,[7] and they worshiped Nergal.[8][9] Modern genetics partially supports both the claims of the Samaritans and the account in the Talmud, suggesting that the genealogy of the Samaritans lies in some combination of these two accounts.
Once a large community of over a million in late Roman times, the Samaritans shrank to several tens of thousands in the wake of the bloody suppression of the Third Samaritan Revolt (529 CE) against theByzantine Christian rulers and mass conversion to Christianity under Byzantine rulers and to Islam under hundreds of years of Arab and Turkish rulers.
As of January 1, 2015, the population was 777, divided between Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim and the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv. Most Samaritans in Israel and the West Bank today speakHebrew and Arabic. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan HebrewSamaritan Aramaic, and Samaritan Arabic are used, all written in the Samaritan alphabet, a variant of the Old Hebrew alphabet, which is distinct from the Hebrew alphabet.[16] Hebrew and later Aramaic were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea prior to the Roman exile.

Although they are drafted into the Israel Defense Forces and considered by Rabbinical Judaism to be a branch of Jews, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel requires Samaritans to officially go through formal Orthodox conversion in order to be recognized as Halakhic Jews in Israel. One example is Israeli TV personality Sofi Tsedaka, who formally converted to Judaism at the age of 18.

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