Samaritans celebrate Shavuot atop Mt. Gerizim

The Samaritan religion closely resembles Judaism, though it has several marked differences, including its own Torah in the ancient Hebrew.

April 24, 2011 13:42

Samaritan shavuot FOR GALLERY 465 4. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Members of the Samaritan sect gathered atop Mount Gerizim to watch the sun rise early Sunday morning as part of the traditional pilgrimage marking the holiday of Shavuot.

The Samaritan religion closely resembles Judaism, though it has several marked differences, including its own Samaritan Torah, written in the ancient Hebrew that is their language of liturgy. In addition, they believe that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, is the holiest place on earth and the site of the temple, as well as where Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to God.

Samaritans believe that their religion is closer than Judaism to that of the original Israelites from before the Babylonian Exile. Their religion is free of the rabbinical interpretations and commentary, such as the Talmud, that became part of Judaism in the Diaspora.

Samaritans believe that they are descendants of the original Israelites who never left during the Babylonian Exile. Though they trace their lineage to Samaria, their name comes from the Hebrew term shomrim, to designate them as “keepers of the law.”

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