The Samaritans celebrated the Passover sacrifice with the participation of the head of the Samaria Regional Council and IDF officers on Thursday night.
Around 800 Samaritans live in Israel, mostly in Holon and on Mount Gerizim in Samaria. Each year, they conduct a traditional Passover sacrifice ceremony in the presence of most members of their community. They believe they are the direct descendants of the non-exiled Ephraim, Menashe and Levi tribes. According to their tradition, they are the “guardians” of the original Torah. Every Passover, they sacrifice 40 sheep in a ceremony that attracts tourists from around the world.
The members of the community wear all white for the ceremony.
“I am very happy to meet you on Passover,” the high priest of the Samaritans said Thursday evening in a conversation with Samaria Regional Council Head Yossi Dagan. “Congratulations to all the people of Israel on a happy holiday.”
Dagan said that “the Samaritans are an integral part of the story of Samaria. They are part of us. We love them.”
The Samaritan Passover is believed to have been observed for more than 2,000 years.
While in the time of the Temple, the Jewish people also made Passover offerings, this tradition ceased with the destruction of the second temple in 70 C.E.
However, several members of the Hozrim Lahar (Returning to the Mountain) organization were arrested earlier this week and on Friday morning for trying to sacrifice a Pascal lamb on the Temple Mount in honor of Passover.
The organization defines itself as a "movement for the redemption of the Temple Mount" and aims to "act on the Temple Mount issue so that it does not fall into foreign hands," according to its Facebook page.