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.

Read More..., the online edition of the Jerusalem Post Newspaper - the most read and best-selling English-language newspaper in Israel. For analysis and opinion from Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East. offers expert and in-depth reporting from Israel, the Jewish World and the Middle East, including diplomacy and defense, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Arab Spring, the Mideast peace process, politics in Israel, life in Jerusalem, Israel's international affairs, Iran and its nuclear program, Syria and the Syrian civil war, Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Israel's world of business and finance, and Jewish life in Israel and the Diaspora.

All rights reserved © The Jerusalem Post 1995 - 2014