In Jerusalem

Taking Passover back to its roots

Samaritans and Karaites continue to celebrate the holiday according to their traditions, which follow a strict literal interpretation of the Bible

Samaritan Passover
Photo by: Flavio Grynszpan
When most Israeli Jews sit down for the Passover Seder, they wait for the children to recite the “Ma Nishtana?” – the four questions – pucker up to inhale the bitter herbs; relish the sweet haroset, dip herbs into salt water, sing rousing renditions of “Dayenu” and “Had Gadya” and knock back four cups of wine. But none of these rituals is part of the Passover observance of Israel’s Karaite and Samaritan believers, who observe the biblically mandated holiday in quite a different way.

Rabbi Ovadya Murad, 62, leader of the Karaite community in Jerusalem’s Old City, explains that the Karaite belief in a strictly literal interpretation of the Torah without any adherence to the Oral Law embodied in rabbinic-talmudic tradition makes observing Passover quite simple.



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