Details and dates of this year’s Festivals in the Samaritan Calendar:

 
The First Evening of the First Month
Monday 27 March 2017

 

The Passover Sacrifice
Monday evening 10 April 2017, between the sunsets (7:11 pm)

 

The Festival of Passover
Tuesday 11 April

 

The Festival of Unleavened Bread
The First Pilgrimage
Monday 17 April 2017

 

The Day of the Sinai Assembly
Wednesday 31 May 2017

 

The Festival of Weeks
The Second Pilgrimage
Sunday 4 June 2017

 

The Festival of the First Day of the Seventh Month
Wednesday 20 September 2017

 

The Day of Atonement
Friday 29 September 2017

 

The Festival of Sukkot
The Third Pilgrimage
Wednesday 4 October 2017

 

The Festival of the Eighth Day
Wednesday 11 October 2017

 

Passover Sacrifice 2018
Sunday 29 April 2018

festivals
Shavuot Pilgrimage
festivals
Passover

Contents

The Samaritans celebrate only the seven holidays mentioned in the Torah:

Pessach (Passover) Separate page

The Feast of Unleavened Bread (Matzot) Separate page

Shavuot (The Festival of Weeks, or Pentecost, seven weeks after Passover) This page

The First Day of the Seventh Month This page

Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement) This page

Sukkot (The Festival of Tabernacles, or Booths) This page

Shemini Atseret (The Eighth Day of Assembly) This page

Unlike our Jewish brothers within the People of Israel, Israelite Samaritans do not celebrate the (rabbinic) festival Hanukah, nor do we celebrate Purim. The New Year celebration falls fourteen days before Pessach (Passover).

 

Seven Festivals of the Israelite Samaritan Year

 

1. PESSACH (Passover), the Sacrifice and the Festival

Back to Contents

 

2. THE FESTIVAL OF UNLEAVENED BREAD (Matzot)

festivals
Matzot

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. THE SEVEN DAYS OF SHAVUOT (The Festival of Weeks, Pentecost)

(a) The Samaritan sages of blessed memory determined that the length of the Shavuot festival should, like Pessach and Sukkot be seven days, as written in the Torah. It marks the climax of the fifty days (seven weeks and one day) of Counting the Omer (omer: the first sheaves of barley), which began on the first day of Pessach.

The holiday lasts from the Monday of the final week of Counting the Omer until the feast on the seventh day.

(b) The opening day of the seven-day festival is called the Day of Assembly. It marks the day when the People of Israel who preserve the Tradition gather for the second pilgrimage of the year. This day is dedicated to visiting the sites which mark the boundaries of the future Garden of Eden, the boundaries of the chosen place, Mount Gerizim Bet El, with song and prayers. Each person who makes this pilgrimage, or participates in the Passover sacrifice there, has fulfilled the commandment which states: at the place God has chosen, to rest His name there.

Four Boundary Points

(i) The Everlasting Hill on Mount Gerizim.

(ii) The Parcel of Land in Shechem (Nablus) which Jacob The Forefather bought.

(iii) Joseph’s Tomb in Shechem.

(iv) Kiryat Eburta (currently known as Awarteh), the burial place of the High Priests Elazar and Itamar, the sons of Aaron the High Priest; Pinhas ben Elazar, and his son Avishay. This was also the burial place of the Seventy Elders and Samaritan High Priests.

(c) On Tuesday of the festival week, the second of the seven days, the congregation is sanctified in preparation for the Day of the Revelation (of the Torah) at Mount Sinai. In the evening, people gather in the synagogues for a special prayer service.

(d) The Memorial Day of the Sinai Assembly falls on Wednesday of the festival week.

On this, the third of the seven festival days, from midnight to the 
following evening, we dedicate prayers to remembrance of the
 Revelation of the Torah on Mount Sinai. We sing hymns and read the entire
 Torah.

During the first five days of the festival week, work is permitted.

(e) On Thursday and Friday, the fourth and fifth days, the Samaritans move to their homes at Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim
 to prepare for the pilgrimage.

(f) On the sixth day, The Special Sabbath of the Ten Commandments, we dedicate prayers to a description of the giving of the Torah, hence the name The Sabbath of the Commandments. In the middle of the prayers, we sing a hymn, composed in the 14th century and describing the handing down of the Torah on Mount Sinai.

Unique Commandment

Share with your family the story of the handing down of the Ten Commandments. Please read the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20, particularly the Tenth Commandment, which does not appear in the Jewish version of the Torah:

And when Shehmaa your Eloowwem will bring you to the land of the Kaanannee, which you are going to inherit. You shall set yourself up great stones, and lime them with lime. And you shall write on them all the words of this law. And when you have passed over the Yaardaan you shall set up these stones, which I command you today, in Aargaareezem (Mount Gerizim). [Exodus 20:14a-c]

 

And there you shall build an altar to Shehmaa your Eloowwem, an altar of stones. You shall lift up no iron on them. And you shall build the altar of Shehmaa your Eloowwem of complete stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings thereon to Shehmaa your Eloowwem. And you shall sacrifice offerings and shall eat there. And you shall rejoice before Shehmaa your Elohim. (The Tenth Commandment). [Exodus 20:14d-g]
Location Markers

The seven location markers are:

(i)    Mount Gerizim

(ii)   On the other side of the River Jordan

(iii)  Behind the way of the sunset

(iv)   In the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arava

(v)    Before Gilgal

(vi)   Beside the Plain of Moreh

(vii)  Before Schehem (Nablus)

(g) Shavuot (The Festival of Weeks, or Pentecost, seven weeks after Passover)

festivals
Shavuot Pilgrimage
festivals
Shavuot Pilgrimage
festivals
Shavuot: Raising The Torah
Shavuot Pilgrimage

Sunday brings Shavuot, the year’s second pilgrimage to the holy sites 
on Mount Gerizim. The prayers begin an hour after midnight, in the
 synagogue at Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim. At about 4:00 a.m., the
 congregation leave the synagogue and make the pilgrimage to the
 mountain top, while singing and praying. They move from station to 
station.

Pilgrimage Stations

(a) The first station is the Place of the Stones (The Twelve Stones, 
Deuteronomy 27:4, understood to be Mount Gerizim in the Samaritan tradition).

(b) The second station is the site of the Altar of Adam and his son Seth.

(c) The third station is the site of the Everlasting Hill (The Everlasting 
Hill, Deuteronomy 33:15).

(d) The fourth station is the site of God Will Provide (God Will Provide, Genesis 
22:8), where Abraham saw the ram in a thicket when he was about to
 sacrifice his son, Isaac.

(e) The fifth station is the site of the Altar of Isaac.

(f) The sixth station is the Altar of Noah.

(g) The seventh station is the site of the Everlasting Hill. In the past, two 
monuments to Jacob marked the place, and this had been the third station.

We dedicate prayers to the Harvest Festival. At the end, we enjoy a festive meal.

Back to Contents

4. THE FIRST DAY OF THE SEVENTH MONTH

festivals
First Day of the Seventh Month
festivals
First Day of the Seventh Month
festivals
First Day of the Seventh Month
Fallow Year

(a) The Festival of the Seventh Month starts the Fallow Year, a year in which cultivation is prohibited, and the soil allowed to rest. The cycle of the Seventh Year begins on the first day of the seventh month. Likewise, the Jubilee Year, (the Fiftieth), begins and ends on the first day of the seventh month, after which the next cycle of fallow years begins.

On the seventh day of the seventh month, at the seventh hour, Moses, the son of Amram, was born, the supreme Prophet, whose equal has not been seen before, during or after his lifetime. Therefore, the seventh month is also the crowning month.

However, the Festival of the Seventh Month is primarily the beginning of the Festival of the Nine Days of Repentance, which precede the Day of Atonement and the Ten Days of Forgiveness, and which climax on the tenth day, the Day of Atonement.

The Festival of the Seventh Month is significant, being the fourth in the series, at the heart of the seven annual festivals. It is a time to meditate on repentance without relapse, renouncing sin permanently.

The feast marks the approach of the Day of Fast, and is the prelude to repentance.

(b) The Sabbath of the Ten Days of Forgiveness.

We recommend a reading of Deuteronomy, followed by family discussion of the value of Atonement and Forgiveness. There is no special Torah portion for this Sabbath.

On the days between the Feast of the Seventh Month and the Day of Atonement, the congregation are sanctified with special prayers each evening and morning, and members prepare to atone for guilt. These are days of mercy, forgiveness, atonement, grace and favour. It is an opportunity to be saved, and to renounce sin.

Back to Contents

5. YOM KIPPUR (The Day of Atonement)

festivals
Yom Kippur
festivals
Yom Kippur
festivals
Yom Kippur. High Priest Netanel
For any soul who will not humble himself on this same day, he shall be cut off from his people. [Leviticus 23:29]

We give highest regard to the Day of Atonement, the crowning Sabbath and festival of grace. He who infuses his soul with total resolve at this time is considered reborn. On this day, the whole congregation stands from one evening to the next in prayer, and reads God’s Torah. The shofar (the ram’s horn) sounds for Israel.

festivals
Shofar

After struggle, release from sin will be achieved. On this day, the king of festivals, Forgiveness radiates. The requirement to fast on this day applies to all, from the recently-weaned infant, to the long-lived grandfather.

The prayer service continues without interruption from one evening to the next. The women of the congregation and their daughters must remember, in the evening and throughout the course of the day, to help the younger children to endure the fast until the reward at the day’s end: the sumptuous feast. Immediately after, preparations begin for the Harvest Festival (Sukkot).

Back to Contents

6. SUKKOT (The Harvest Festival, The Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths)

There are no more joyous days for Israelite Samaritans than the days of the Harvest Festival. Following the fast of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the tradition of the sages instils a feeling of rebirth, and each member of the congregation feels imbued with fresh strength and vigour for the building of their sukkah (booth). These remind us in their appearance and complexity of the exquisite Garden of Eden, and the facade of the Tabernacle of Moses. Neither structure is now visible, so every congregation member is free to design his sukkah as he sees fit. Each endeavours to build the most beautiful sukkah.

Short film including Israelite Samaritan Sukkot (YouTube, Hebrew with English subtitles).

The members of the congregation are commanded to make the pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim on each of the three annual pilgrimage festivals. Before they do this at The Harvest Festival they must complete the construction of their sukkot (booths). They started to build them in the evening at the end of the Day of Atonement. At times, the interval is very short, when the holiday follows the Sabbath. At other times, there is a longer preparation period within the four days separating the Day of Atonement from the Feast of Booths.

Building The Sukka
festivals
Attaching Fruit To The Wire
festivals
Attaching The Wire To The Frame
festivals
Building The Sukkah
However, the wonder of it is that whatever time is allotted, the Samaritans manage to set up their magnificent sukkot. The combination of four plant species, which it is commanded to use in setting up the sukkah, creates a splendid spectacle. The four species comprise branches of palm, willow, leafy trees, and “the fruit of goodly trees” [Leviticus 23:40].

festivals
Completed Sukkah

Some attach the four species to the ceiling of the largest room in the home, while others place them on four strong poles. The average weight of the fruit used is about 350 kg. Each wonderful, elegant citrus fruit of the season is hung in the sukkah, dozens of kilograms of each species. Above them we attach palm fronds, alternately spread out, right side up, and upside down. Above these, we place dense boughs of thick-leafed trees, close together to form a thatched roof. Alongside we place willows of the brook, brought from the banks of Israeli streams and rivers. All the species are joined together.

Third Pilgrimage To Mount Gerizim

The different coloured lights suspended among the assorted paper decorations are dimmed, and the congregation sets off on the pilgrimage. This is the third pilgrimage of the year to the Holy Sites on Mount Gerizim. We dedicate the prayers to The Harvest Festival.

Following the pilgrimage, the congregation descend to their sukkot. Joy reaches its peak. The clear arak, produced the previous day at home, is diluted in the waters of the mountain springs until they turn white as milk, and decanted into throats filled with the cheerful songs of Sukkot. Truly, the Harvest Festival is a day of happiness and rejoicing. A large variety of salads, peeled almonds which have been soaked in water, oven-baked broad beans, assorted baked goods, cakes and cookies add to the joy.

Among the festival days, there is also a festive Sabbath of the Harvest Festival, which is called the Garden of Eden Sabbath. This Sabbath comes to teach us that he whose sins have been forgiven on the Day of Atonement is worthy to enter the gates of the Garden of Eden. The sukkah expresses this beautifully. On Sukkot the Samaritans host thousands of guests who come to visit from all over the country and from abroad.

Back to Contents

7. THE FEAST OF SHEMINI ATSERET (The Eighth Day of Sukkot)

The day of Shemini Atseret (the Eighth Day of Sukkot) concludes the festivals of the year. It is the last, but not the least of the annual festivals. At the end of the festival prayer service, we rejoice with Simchat Torah (Rejoicing in the Torah), and then depart for the sumptuous festive meal. At the end of the holiday, we dismantle the sukkot, storing their poles and nets until the next Harvest Festival. The fruits will be squeezed to make sweet juice, and some will be eaten by the children.

Note: On Shabbats and Festivals the schedule of worship is the same, from sunset the evening before until sunset the evening after. The worshipper may adjust to the time of sunset in his or her location.

Back To Top for Dates of Festivals

Back to Contents

See TOURS for details of accommodation on Mount Gerizim

Benyamim Tsedaka

Photography: Ori Orhof

14 Responses

  1. Dear Benny,
    Thank you so much for your response regarding fasting. I am a male.
    Sincerely,
    Kellac

  2. Robert Mittelman

    Benny, in your answer to Elisheva Yocheved’s question you said that your community notes the Jubilee every 50 years. In Bowman’s translation of the Tolidah (Samaritan Documents: Relating to Their History, Religion and Life, p. 43) it states that out of every 5 jubilee cycles, the first is 50 years and the next 4 are 49 years, for a total of 246 years per every 5 cycles. Do you disagree with this? If so, can you point me to the relevant document(s)? If Bowman’s translation is correct, do you know why it’s done that way?

    Congratulations on your translation of the Torah. A wonderful resource. Thanks for all your help.

  3. Shalom, Why do Israelite Samaritans today only sacrifice on Passover? Why do they not make a sin offering etc?

  4. Greetings Mr. Tsedaka,
    I come from a convoluted religious background and have had quite a difficult time finding the Truth. (By the way, thank you SO much for your English translation of the Torah. I am waiting for my copy to arrive in the mail.) I was born and raised in the U.S.A. (From my experience, most of this country are occultists that publicly pretend to be Protestant Christians.)
    Will you please explain exactly what fasting means. Does it mean not ingesting anything? Does it mean no solid food? I have heard various explanations, and I want to do it correctly.
    Thank you for your time sir.

    • Benyamim Tsedaka

      Dear Mr or Ms Callac,
      Israelite Samaritans and fasting: as strict followers of the truth of the Five Books of Moses (The written Torah), the Israelites were commanded to fast only one day, the Day of Atonement, on the Tenth Day of the Seventh Month of the Hebrew Year. There are no other days of fasting. Only one, as described in the Book of Leviticus, Chap. 16:29-34 and 23:26-32.
      The fasting is total from sunset to sunset, no eating, no drinking. Nothing. The rule applies to every human soul, from the infant that has ceased to be breastfed up to the the eldest, male and female.
      Fondly, Benny

  5. I was debating with a friend yesterday why I think our (Jewish) omer count is incorrect, and that today (Sunday, May 4, morning) is really the 15th day, not the 19th. I said that the beauty of the Israelite Samaritan view is that you hold Leviticus 23:15 (“And you shall count unto you from the morrow after the Shabbat…”) to mean what it actually says and that “the Shabbat” in this case means Shabbat, and not the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread (as our Sages teach). I told him that God speaks to us plainly and doesn’t tease us with riddles as to what He means. My friend said that in the Jewish way of counting, Shavuot will always fall on the 50th day after the Israelites left Egypt. How shall I reply to him? (We agreed to continue our debate next week.) Thanks!

    • Shalom Andy,
      In principle, Jews created some of their laws to differentiate themselves from the Samaritans – their spiritual opponents, even if it meant twisting the written words of the Torah to that end. Firstly: starting the Hebrew year from the Seventh Month (!) rather than the logical place: the First Month. The Fifty Days of Counting the Omer should start the first day after the first Shabbat after Pessach, and not from the first day after the Pessach Festival which is a Shabbaton (a festive day), not a Shabbat (Sabbath), as written. Contrary to the Laws written in the Torah they permitted: entry to the Holy synagogue with shoes; lighting candles on the evening of Shabbat; impure sexual relations between husband and wife on Shabbat eve; wearing wrapped Tefillin instead of spiritually holding the commandments of the Torah in mind, and so on.

      I recommend my book The Israelite Samaritan Version of the Torah, available on this website. It compares the Samaritan and Masoretic (Jewish) texts, in English, focusing on the 3000 significant differences between them, with notes on the differences in the margin. If you have any further questions Andy, please don’t hesitate to ask.

      Benny

      • Thank you Benny. I’ve got your book (and “Samaritan Exegesis” as well). It is marvelous although I hide it when neighbors & guests come over. They would probably think I’m crazy (not to mention a borderline heretic) for taking such a deep interest in the Israelite Samaritans.

  6. Elisheva Yocheved

    Okay, another quick question. Do Samerim still observe the Jubilee year.

    • Shalom Elisheva,
      We mark it every 50 years in our calendar, but there are no special events, since for hundreds of years we have had no lands.
      Regards
      Benyamim Tsedaka

  7. Elisheva Yocheved

    Shalom. Is the fourth holy day listed also known as Yom Teruah? In Jewish lore, it’s erroneously known as Rosh HaShanah, which is erroneously known as the new year, instead of the new year being first of the month of Aviv. And I also thought Simchat Torah was a solely rabbinical Jewish thing.

    • Shalom Elisheva,
      You are right, except that Shmini Atzeret, the Seventh Festival is from the Torah and the Rejoicing of the Torah event on this day is Rabbinical.

  8. Orlando Ordoñez Chavarro

    Excelente la fidelidad del pueblo Israelita Samaritano a los preceptos señalados en la Toráh del Honorable Shema! Toda raba por esa actitud siempre paciente en creer y seguir al Padre Eterno

Leave a Reply