Israeli history photo of the week: Samaritan Pessah, 1900

JPost special feature: A Library of Congress photograph collection that documents pre-state Israel.

March 28, 2012 17:51
Samaritan high priest Yitzhak ben Amram

Samaritan religious leader 311. (photo credit: American Colony-Jerusalem-Photo Dept. )

The Library of Congress has recently digitalized a collection of over 10,000 photographs, taken by the "American Colony" in Jerusalem, a group of Christian utopians who lived in Jerusalem between 1881 and the 1940s. The photographers returned to the US, and bequeathed their massive collection to the Library of Congress in 1978. The collection includes Winston Churchill's visit to Jerusalem, Jewish expulsions from the Old City during Arab riots, and the building of Tel Aviv.

With Passover approaching, the collection details the traditions of Israel's Samaritan population circa 1900.  Living in the north of Israel, Samaritans worshiped on Mt. Gerizim, prayed to the God of Abraham, revered a scroll comparable to the five books of Moses and maintained Passover customs, including the sacrifice of the Pascal Lamb.  

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A millennium ago, it was estimated more than a million Samaritans lived in Israel.  However, as a result of persecution, massacre and forced conversion, many Samaritans have disappeared. Today, there are only 751 Samaritans living in Israel.  

More photos can be viewed at

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