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April 17, 1987 - Image 12

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1987-04-17

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

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14

Friday, April 17, 1987

erusalem - "Prepara-
tions for the sacrifice
are complete," says
Benyamin Tsedaka. Every
family already has its mat-
zah. The fires have been
burning for hours. No meat,
bread or matzah has been
eaten all day, to ensure an
appetite for the lamb. The
High Priest arrives at dusk,
ascends the high stone and
reads the Haggadah. The
lambs are slaughtered,
cooked and eaten with matzot
and bitter herbs."
Benyamin Tsedaka's ac-
count of a Passover sacrifice
may sound as if it took place
in Jerusalem 2,500 years ago,
but Tsedaka lives in Holon,
Israel in the 1980's and is de-
scribing events he has seen
and participated in. While
Jews today no longer make
the Passover sacrifice or even
pray on the disputed Temple
Mount in Jerusalem, another
"Temple Mount" - today less
disputed but once the subject
of fierce controversy and even
battle in ancient Israel - is
the object of regular pilgrim-
ages by those Children of Is-
rael who are called the
Samaritans.
"We are Israelites," de-
clares Tsedaka. "When the
Jewish People returned to Is-
rael from exile in Egypt, the
Samaritans were already
here. We never left." Accord-
ing to Tsedaka, he is a 125th
generation Israeli. The
Samaritans have in fact been
centered around their holy
mountain - Mount Gerizim
near Nablus in Samaria -
for thousands of years. Al-
though they numbered over
one million people in the
fourth Century, their num-
bers dwindled through pog-
roms, persecution and forced
conversions, to a mere 146 by
the end of Ottoman rule.
The creation of Israel was a
great boon to the Samaritans
who are now enjoying a re-
naissance of sorts and about
535 of them today live in
Nablus and Holon. "We still
use the ancient Hebrew
script," notes Tsedaka. "Our
priests are descended from
Aaron and our music has
been recognized as the oldest
religious music in the world."
The Samaritans, however,
are probably most famous for
having kept alive the tradi-
tion of the Passover sacrifice
as described in the Bible.
The Samaritans' Passover
sacrifice of the paschal lamb
takes place on Mt. Gerizim,
80 meters from the summit.
The high priest climbs upon a
large stone and gives the sig-

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nal to slaughter the sheep
while reading the story of the
Exodus from Egypt. The
sheep are slaughtered as the
congregation raises its voice
in prayer; then the sheep are
cleaned, rinsed and salted.
They are then placed in
ovens that have been dug
into the earth and sealed
with shrubs and wet earth.
Six hours later the ovens are
opened and each family
comes for its portion of the
sacrifice. An outsider at the
ceremony may feel as if he
has been transported back
3,000 years in time.
"Even the Jews continued
the ritual of sacrifice after.

"Samaritans
believe that God
chose Mt. Gerizim
as His only holy
place."



their Temple's destruction,"
Tsedaka continues. "But the
Samaritans believe that God
chose Mt. Gerizim as His
only holy place.

Historians and rabbis are
divided over whether the con-
flict over the relative holiness
of Jerusalem and Mt. Gerizim
caused the split between the
Northern and Southern
Kingdoms of Israel in 930
BCE. In any case, today's
Samaritans say they are the
descendants of the ten north-
ern tribes, never completely
"lost" as Jewish tradition
holds, while rabbinical
sources regard the Samari-
tans as descendants of the
Assyrian colonizers brought
to Nablus in 721 BCE and
who consequently converted
to Judaism.
The Samaritan Pentateuch,
interestingly, resembles the
Jewish version except that
Mt. Gerizim, not Jerusalem,
is referred to as God's chosen
dwelling place.
On top of the holy moun-
tain, Mt. Gerizim, are 12
stones supposedly put there
by Joshua when Israel
entered Canaan, as an altar
to Adam and his son Seth.
The altar is said to be the
place where Abraham pre-
pared Isaac for sacrifice.
Benyamin Tsedaka and his
brother Yefet have published
the world's only bi-weekly
quadri-lingual (English, He-
brew, Arabic, Ancient He-
brew) newspaper, AB., for 17
years and are fanatically de-
voted to preserving the fas-
cinating history of their
people and furthering the
study of their history and lit-
erature.

World Zionist Press Service

K

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