Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Visiting the Samaritans

SAMARITAN WATCH: The Last of the Good Samaritans. You may well be aware of the New Testament parable of the good Samaritan. But you probably don’t know that there are around 800 ancient Israelite Samaritans still living today (Judith Fein, BBC Travel). PaleoJudaica Readers, Ms. Fein does not mean you! But this is an informative and entertaining account of her several visits to the Samaritan community on the West Bank. And I learned something about Samaritan food customs from it too.
The gate swung open and I was cordially ushered inside to an ornate living room. Within minutes, the white-bearded High Priest entered, wearing a grey robe and red turban. A dignified man in his early 80s, he was accompanied by his deputy High Priest and members of his family. He motioned for me to sit next to him on a sofa. The audience had begun. "What can I do for you?" he asked with genteel formality.

The meeting was very friendly, until I mentioned that I had once eaten camel. The High Priest grew ashen and his family looked away, as though embarrassed.

"Eating camel is worse than eating pig!" he bellowed.

He said I had to atone and do penance. I swore I’d never eat camel again. The meeting was clearly over. Completely deflated, I began skulking out of the room in shame. The High Priest burst out laughing. "It's been enjoyable meeting… a camel-eater,” he said.

[Ms. Fein's contact Benjamin] Tsedaka later told me that after I left, the High Priest asked if the camel-eater had got home safely.
PaleoJudaica has mentioned Mr. Tsedaka off and on over many years, most recently here. For more on Samaritan Passover, see here and links. And for many other past posts on the Samaritans, run "Samaritan Watch" through the PaleoJudaica search engine.

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