Thousands and thousands of individuals all over the world are accustomed to the proverbial Good Samaritan, however few really know who the Samaritans are.

“In a manner, they’re Palestinians and Jews and neither, all on the identical time,” is how one writer described the traditional individuals.

The Samaritans (Shomronim in Hebrew) are neither Jewish, Muslim nor Christian. Descended from the Northern tribes of biblical Israel — particularly the tribes of Ephraim, Menashe, and Levi — they’re a definite non secular sect with a 3,600-year-old historical past.

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Not like the Jews, who’re descendants of the tribe of Judah, the Samaritans haven’t any exilic expertise. They’ve lived within the Land of Israel repeatedly, topic to centuries of persecution by completely different conquerors and rulers. Believed to have as soon as numbered one million, the Samaritans almost disappeared by the early twentieth century. Break up at the moment between Holon in Israel and Nablus within the West Financial institution, the neighborhood has constructed itself again as much as roughly 850 members.

‘Samaritan Cookbook’ by Benyamim Tsedaka and edited by Ben Piven & Avishay Zelmanovich, with epilogue by Steven Fantastic. (Wipf and Inventory)

A brand new cookbook introduces English audio system to the culinary traditions of the Samaritans. The meals of this distinctive neighborhood represents a steady line immediately again to the traditional Israelites. On the identical time, it reveals influences of the varied ethnic teams which have populated the Levant all through historical past, together with fashionable occasions. (To wit, the ebook features a recipe for challah, the Sabbath and vacation bread of Ashkenazi Jews.)

Co-editor Ben Piven informed The Occasions of Israel that the supposed viewers for “Samaritan Cookbook: A Culinary Odyssey from the Historic Israelites to the Trendy Mediterranean” is broad, together with Jews, together with Israelis who might know nothing about this tiny, enigmatic individuals dwelling alongside them.

“We additionally assume that Christians with robust ties to the land of the Bible will likely be on this, in addition to historians. The recipes may also attraction to followers of the wholesome Mediterranean weight loss plan, and to supporters of Center East coexistence,” stated Piven, a 38-year-old journalist dwelling in Brooklyn, New York.

Piven and co-editor Avishay Zelmanovich labored with author Benyamim Tsedaka and photographer Yadid Levy to create a gorgeous cookbook of 24 recipes accessible to English readers. The ebook is an adaptation of a 2011 Hebrew-language cookbook titled, “Wonders of the Samaritan Kitchen,” revealed by Tsedaka in Israel. That ebook included a whopping 284 recipes collected from girls within the Samaritan neighborhood by Tsedaka’s mom and aunt, Batia bat Yefet Tsedaka and Zippora Sassoni Tsedaka.

From left: Benyamim Tsedaka, Avishay Zelmanovich and Ben Piven in Brooklyn, NY, November 2015. (Courtesy)

Tsedeka, 76, has lengthy been the emissary of the Samaritans to the world. Piven and his buddy Zelmanovich, a 36-year-old Israeli entrepreneur, met Tsedaka in 2009, when Piven was dwelling in Tel Aviv and dealing on an article in regards to the Samaritans for the Israel newspaper Haaretz. In subsequent years, the trio met up within the US on a number of of Tsedaka’s worldwide lecture excursions.

“Samaritan Cookbook” features a postscript by historian Dr. Steven Fantastic, founding director of the Yeshiva College Heart for Israel Research. Fantastic served as the educational guide for the ebook, as it’s half of a bigger Yeshiva College Israelite Samaritans Undertaking.

That multifaceted undertaking will embrace a documentary movie and an exhibition on the Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. It is going to additionally contain an accessible scholarly ebook, a kids’s ebook, and a catalog of Samaritan-related gadgets within the YU Museum assortment.

With regard to the cookbook, Fantastic famous, “We used completely different registers of language [in the different parts of the cookbook] to achieve completely different audiences.”

Steven Fantastic on scaffolding on the Arch of Titus, Rome, 2012 (Arch of Titus Undertaking, Yeshiva College)

Certainly, “Samaritan Cookbook” comprises way over recipes, and is due to this fact fascinating for greater than merely culinary causes. By introductory supplies, Fantastic’s postscript, and Levy’s stunning pictures, readers find out about Samaritan historical past, faith and tradition.

The ebook explains that Samaritans in Israel converse Hebrew, and people dwelling among the many Palestinians converse Arabic. Nonetheless, the Samaritans’ sacred writings are recorded in their very own alphabet, a variant of the Outdated or Paleo-Hebrew alphabet.

Samaritan Scripture consists solely of the 5 Books of Moses (Torah), particularly a model of the holy textual content from the late Second Temple Interval that was not chosen because the authoritative Masoretic Textual content of mainstream Rabbinic Judaism. Consequently, Samaritans observe the kosher legal guidelines as they seem within the Torah, with out the later exegesis and elaboration offered by the Talmud and later commentaries.

Samaritans pray at Mount Gerizim throughout Sukkot vacation. Nablus, Palestinian territories, October 2017. (Yadid Levy)

Within the Samaritan Torah, Mount Gerizim close to Nablus — not Mount Moriah — is essentially the most sacred of all locations chosen by God. For that motive, the Samaritans make pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim on the festivals, somewhat than to Jerusalem. (Samaritans have fun all holidays talked about within the Torah, however none from the remainder of the Bible, corresponding to Purim, or post-Biblical ones corresponding to Hanukkah.)

Probably the most dramatic pictures within the ebook have been taken through the pilgrimage holidays of Passover in April 2016, and Sukkot in October 2017. Though there are sections on the distinctive methods wherein these two holidays are celebrated by the Samaritans, there are surprisingly no vacation recipes in “Samaritan Cookbook.” In line with Piven, this was a deliberate selection with a view to maintain the choice of meat and vegetarian recipes as consultant and easy as doable.

In an e mail interview with The Occasions of Israel, Tsedaka stated he hoped {that a} Samaritan cookbook devoted to Sabbath and vacation dishes can be forthcoming.

“Our delicacies excels in that space,” Tsedaka stated.

Samaritan males at Passover lamb cooking pits on Mt. Gerizim, Palestinian territories, April 2016. (Yadid Levy)

These accustomed to the meals of Israel, Palestine and Lebanon will discover little completely different between these cuisines and that of the Samaritans. Dishes corresponding to Maqlouba, Hummus, Falafel and Majadara will be present in nearly any Center Jap cookbook.

Nonetheless, Tsedaka took subject with such an assertion. “This is without doubt one of the most historic cuisines on the planet,” he maintained about Samaritan delicacies.

Tsedaka identified that Samaritan cooking is characterised by means of solely contemporary meat (hen, lamb or veal) — by no means frozen — straight from the butcher into the pot. He stated Samaritan meals observe an everyday weekly sample, with all together with loads of contemporary salads. Lunches function meat, with fish sooner or later every week. Sabbath dinner on Friday night time consists of pea or spinach soup, adopted by stuffed greens or stuffed hen.

Benyamim Tsedaka on a sofa at his house in Holon, Israel. (Yadid Levy)

“My private favourite is hen filled with rice or eggplant,” Tsedaka stated.

Piven acknowledged that there’s actually no important distinction between Samaritan delicacies and that of neighboring ones.

“It’s all a part of the heritage of the bigger area and the Samaritan’s story of survival at this crossroads of cultures,” Piven stated.

In line with Fantastic, whether or not or not one can discover the identical dishes additionally made in Israeli or Palestinian kitchens is just not the purpose of publishing the cookbook.

“That is one other piece of humanizing this distinctive neighborhood that’s so little recognized,” Fantastic stated.

The properly of the samaritan Shechem, Napulus, Holy Land, i.e., Nablus, West Financial institution. , ca. 1890. [Between and Ca. 1900] {Photograph}. https://www.loc.gov/merchandise/2001699270/.

Avocado and Sesame Dip

Avocado and sesame dip, from ‘Samaritan Cookbook.’ (Yadid Levy)

1 large avocado
2 tbsp tahini
2 crushed garlic cloves
3 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
ó tbsp salt
1 small tomato
12 pitted black olives

This appetizer is like guacamole with a Center Jap twist, and goes properly whilst you’re ready for the remainder of the meals. Totally mash the avocado with a fork, then add all the opposite elements besides the olives and tomato. Transfer the dip onto a plate and garnish with the olives
and tomato. If you wish to add extra ornament, use some chopped coriander or mint leaves, together with pitted black olives.

Potatoes Filled with Lamb

10 medium-sized potatoes
1 cup of cubed lamb meat
1 tbsp pine nuts
1 onion
Salt
Black pepper
Cinnamon
2 tbsp tomato paste
Oil

Peel the potatoes, and wash them properly. Slice the highest off of every potato so it may be used later as a lid. Then scoop out the potatoes to create pockets within the center to allow them to maintain what comes subsequent. Evenly pan fry the lamb cubes, the onion, and the pine nuts collectively. Then put all the pieces in a bowl and add the remainder of the spices. Then put the filling into the potatoes. Put the potato lids on, and use toothpicks to carry them collectively. Evenly pan fry or put into the oven the potatoes earlier than putting all of them in a Pyrex tray.

Combine the tomato paste with 1½ cups of water, then pour this over all of the potatoes within the pan. Cowl the pan with aluminum foil, prepare dinner within the oven at 400 levels Fahrenheit. As soon as all the pieces smells good and has begun wanting barely burnt, then take it out, and serve it up.

Potatoes filled with lamb, from ‘Samaritan Cookbook.’ (Yadid Levy)

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