Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The (Good) Samaritan Exists.

We traveled up to the mountain where Abraham was saved from sacrificing Issac. Living near by is a Palestinian Jewish community of around 750 who are decedents of the Samaritans. Jews, who have always seen the mountain as scared instead of the temple in Jerusalem, live in this small community and practice sacrificial rituals unknown to the rest of the world. I found it amazing to find a group of people who preserved not only rituals but also an ancient language.

The Samaritans see themselves not as part of the Palestinian people and not part of the Israeli people. They see themselves in line with their history of being the Good Samaritan, the peaceful generous solution. They find that they can live as Palestinians and as Jews but in light of the present conflict they do not want to be part of either side.

After our meeting with one of the Samaritan priests we traveled to Nablus, a beautiful city nestled between the hills. The Samaritans used to live there but during one of the conflicts, either the 1967 war or the intifada, the Samaritans moved away up to their holy mountain. We spent time at the Yafa community center which is trying to help the dire poverty of the refugee camp in Nablus. This organization tells a bitter story of oppression and violence which now, is resulting in hopelessness and abuse. The children we walked the narrow streets with were beautiful, they took pieces of my heart.

The old city of Nablus was beautiful too. Mohammed our guide walked us around the streets where we got to see a candy factory. We got to eat taffy and halava right off the assembly line; warm and soft and tasty! We walked into a spice story and saw them roasting coffee. We also got to have this cinnamon tea at a Turkish bath where we got a tour of the steam rooms. It was beautiful to see Palestinian people just living their lives. It was a good day.

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