A happy Id al-Fitr in Sebastia

"May every Id be like this one," declared Manal as she dished out large spoonfuls of maklubeh.

id al-fitr food 88 (photo credit: )
id al-fitr food 88
(photo credit: )
At 6 o'clock Thursday morning, Manal, the 39-year-old mother of the Kayed family, began waking her nine children. "Ayman, Mustafa, Iman, wake up!" she said gleefully to the small and large bodies curled up under blankets on thin foam mattresses on the floor. "It's a wonderful Id day!" Indeed it was. Each child - they range in age from four to 22 - had a new set of clothes and shoes to celebrate Id al-Fitr, the holiday of breaking the fast, which marks the end of the dawn-to-sunset fasting month of Ramadan. Mahmoud, 16, Mustafa, 15, Nasser, 14, and little Ayman, four, walked across the wadi, past the fruit and olive trees and around the mountain into Sebastia's main square to say the special Id prayer at the village mosque at 7 a.m. "Boys, you watch over Ayman," warned Manal as the boys walked outside their roadside home. "And if the army comes, quickly go into a shop." "Don't worry, Mom," answered the older boys without looking back. They were eager to get to the village. This year they would be able to buy firecrackers and play with the other boys after the prayer. Manal squealed with delight, repeating how wonderful Id was as she and the girls cleaned house. To prove her point to visitors she opened her new refrigerator and the lid to her washing machine, which sat side-by-side in their kitchen. The old fridge died in the middle of the intifada and was not replaced until Saturday. The laundry was done by hand. Inside the living room-cum-bedroom she displayed the family's new four-door clothes closet. And in the hallway, a new shoe cabinet stood where shoes were once piled high. While new clothes on Id and household appliances would be taken for granted by most families, for the Kayeds these things were almost a miracle. They live on the road between Nablus and Jenin, only two minutes' drive from the Shavei Shomron settlement and its troublesome checkpoint. A few minutes in the other direction is another military checkpoint. For the last few years the 24-member extended Kayed family has been isolated - locked between the two checkpoints unable to work. Bilal, the father of the family, sold his taxi and stayed at home. His son Nasser, 13, sold apricots to earn some extra shekels. Muhammad, 22, and his cousin Uday have a garage under the house, but few customers could come because Palestinians were prevented from using the main road that passes by their house and forced to take dirt roads, a tactic employed by the IDF to make travel for terrorists difficult. The only customers of the garage were settlers from Shavei Shomron, Homesh and Sa-Nur. Manal's brother kept the family from hunger. A shopkeeper in Jenin, he would send them oil, rice, wheat, lentils and sugar so the family could survive. They milked their sheep for cheese and occasionally sold one to a family in Shavei Shomron for Pessah. "We are under siege," Muhammad Ali, the grandfather, told a reporter the day before Homesh and Sa-Nur were emptied of settlers in September. The family hoped that once the settlers were gone the road would be opened and they would be able to get work. But the checkpoints open only sporadically, and following the recent Palestinian terrorist bombing in Hadera, Palestinian private cars in the north of the West Bank where they live are no longer allowed to drive on the main roads at all. But fortune would have it that the two eldest sons got a job in factory in Ramallah and are allowed to travel past the checkpoint to get there. They come home twice a month and now provide the family with everything. "May every Id be like this one," declared Manal with fervor as she dished out large spoonfuls of maklubeh - rice and eggplant - and passed her children large pieces of chicken.