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October 10, 1980 - Image 15

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1980-10-10

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Friday, October NI,-- 1930 15

Samaritans Seek Funding for Israel Communal Center

NEW YORK (JTA) —
Two representatives of the
ancient Samaritan commu-
nity in Israel arrived here
this week to begin a four-
week tour of the United
States to acquaint Ameri-
cans, particularly Jews,
with the customs and tradi-
tions of their community.
The two Samaritans,
Menashe Marchiv, 41, the
secretary general of the
Samaritan community in
Holon, and Meir Sasoni, 31,
in an interview' with
,the
:the Jewish Telegraphic
Agency that they consider
their mission to. the United
States to be of far-reaching
importance to the future of
their community.
"We are here to raise
money to build a commu-
nity center and a research
institute of Samaritan his-
tory and life in Holon,"
Marchiv said. He said that
the project will cost an esti-
mated $350,000 and that
the Israeli government has
allocated about $50,000 for
the project.
According to Marchiv
and Sasoni, the lack of a
community center might
be a major contributing
factor in the demise of the
Samaritan community as
a distinct group. "We are
concerned about this
possibility," Sasoni said,
"and we believe that a
community and cultural
center will be a unifying
force for the Samaritan
community in general
and for the young gener-
ation in particular."
The Samaritans reside in
Holon, near Tel Aviv, and in
Shechem (Nablus) on the
West Bank. The two corn-
munities have about 600
members. Marchiv said that
during their visit to the
U.S., he and Sasoni are re-
presenting only the com-
munity in Holon.
The Samaritans claim to
be descendants of the tribes
of Ephraim and Menashe
and part of the tribe of Levi.
Their original capital was
in Samaria and originally
they called themselves
or
"Bene Yisrael"
"Shomerim" (the "keepers"
of the Law).
The Samaritans did not
participate in the Jewish
revolt of 66-70, but rose in-
dependently from time to
time against the Romans.
The Samaritans believe
in Moses as the sole Pro-
phet and the only part of
the Bible they accept is
the Pentateuch.
They claim that the place
chosen by God for His
sanctuary is Mt. Gerizim,
the holiest place in the his-
tory and tradition of the
Samaritans and that
Passover can only be cele-
brated on ' Mt. Gerizim
where the lambs are sac-
rificed, roasted and eaten.
On the seventh day they
make a pilgrimage to the

Be always displeased
with what thou art if thou
desire to attain to what thou
art not, for where thou hast
pleased thyself, there thou
abidest.
—Quarles

mountain, reciting sections
of the Pentateuch.
With the establishment of
the state of Israel the
Samaritan community
enjoyed the patronage of
Yitzhak Ben-Zvi, the second
president of Israel. As a
sign of gratitude, the
Samaritan community
plans to name the new
community center they
hope to build as the Yitzhak
Ben-Zvi Samaritan Com-
munity Center.
The tightly knit Samari-
tan community in Israel is
represented by a high priest
(kohen gadol) and a com-
mittee of five. Their chil-
dren receive their education

in state schools, but their
religious studies are con-
ducted within the commu-
nity "at the private home of
the kohen due to the lack of
appropriate buildings,"
Marchiv said.
Both Marchiv and Sa-
soni emphasized that the
Samaritans 0 are equal
citizens in Israel "who
enjoy equality of rights
and obligations," includ-
ing mandatory service in
the Israeli army.

Due to the small number
of Samaritans and their
special customs, "it is im-
perative for us to live to-
gether in a closeknit corn-

munity," Sasoni said. He
explained that a Samaritan
is required to live within his
own community and use its
synagogue. There is only
one Samaritan synagogue
in the country, and that one
is in Holon. This has caused
a severe housing problem
for about 50 Samaritan
young couples who cannot
reside elesewhere in Israel
and cannot afford presently
to build apartments in the
vicinity of their community
in Holon, Sasoni said.
The housing shortage and
the lack of a community
center are two acute prob-
lems facing the Samaritans,
Marchiv and Sasoni ob-

served. "We hope, while we
are in the United States, to
meet with Jewish leaders
and with American officials
in Washington," they said,
"and we hope to find some-
one who will listen to our
cause."
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