THE ISRAELITE SAMARITAN FESTIVAL OF PASSOVER

Contents

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Passover Pilgrimage
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Passover: Raising the Torah on Gerizim

The First Day of the First Month: The New Year, Spring

In the evening and morning of the First day of the First Month we recite special prayers to celebrate the New Year. The Priest leading the prayer blesses the worshippers for the New Year. After the evening prayer we enjoy a special meal.
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The Passover Sacrifice

 

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Preparing the Oven
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Grid and Vegetation

The day of the sacrifice arrives. At twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month, the whole community of Israel gathers in the magnificent square. Soon, the High Priest and his entourage of distinguished members of the community arrive at the ceremonial place, accompanied by eminent guests. There, the members of the congregation of Israel attend them. Some of them, primarily the adults, dress in their prayer attire; while the majority, mostly young people, dress in the style of those who left Egypt, wearing belted white trousers and shirts, and shoes on their feet. The High Priest begins with the sacrifice prayer and announces the ritual slaughter. Then experienced slaughterers bring the sheep to the altar and slaughter them.
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Oven Fired
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Burlap and Damp Vegetation

Kashrut

Members of each family check the kashrut of the slaughter for each other. Community members distribute matzot with bitter herbs to the others of the community of Israel. We clean the sheep, both inside and out and then we bind each sheep on a spit, sprinkling salt to render it kosher. About two and a half hours before midnight, we place the sheep on their spits into hot ovens. By means of an iron grille, we seal the opening of the oven, securing the skewers. Then we cover the net with burlap, and immediately spread a damp mixture of earth and bushes on top. The immense, stifling heat from the fires wafts up from the deep ovens, roasting the sheep until they are well done.

Please note: in your home you can carry out a small part of the entire ceremony by buying a piece of Kosher lamb sufficient for the diners and roasting it in the oven.

When the day of the sacrifice falls on a Friday, the ceremony begins at midday and we eat the sheep before evening falls. Thus, we avoid desecrating the Sabbath. We then hide all the remains until the end of the Sabbath. Then, we bring them to the altar to be burned.
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Sheep Transferred

In the middle of the night, at the time when the Angel of Destruction went out to slay the Egyptian firstborn, we remove the sheep from the ovens, take them off the skewers, and transfer them onto large platters. We have sung continuously since the start of the sacrifice, and continue to sing as we bring the platters home. There, we eat the meat of the sacrifice in haste, with matzot and bitter herbs.
We bring any remains back to the fire and burn them before dawn. When the day of the sacrifice falls on a Friday, the ceremony begins at midday and we bring the roasted sheep out and eat them before evening falls, to prevent any desecration of the Sabbath. We hide the remains until the end of the Sabbath. Then, we bring them to the altar to be burned.

In the early morning, the Passover Festival prayer begins.
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The Passover Festival Prayer

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Robing for Passover

This begins in the early morning, and recalls the events of the Passover and the Exodus.
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Special Sabbath: The Sabbath of the Unleavened Bread Festival

There is no Torah portion to read, but share with your family the whole story of the Exodus. Before the Sabbath arrives I recommend watching the movie The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston, Ann Baxter, Yul Brynner and E Robinson. The movie lasts for four hours. Watch the first half before the Sabbath and the second half afterwards.
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The Festival of Unleavened Bread (Matzot)

On the seventh day of the festival, after having celebrated and visited each other during the interim days, comes the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is the first pilgrimage day in the new year to the holy sites on Mount Gerizim. The prayers begin one hour after midnight, in the synagogue at Kiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim. At about 4:00 a.m. the congregation leaves the synagogue and makes the pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Gerizim, while singing and praying. We progress from station to station.

(a) The first station is the Place of the Stones [The Twelve Stones, Deuteronomy 27:4. In the Samaritan version: Mount Gerizim].
(b) The second stop is the site of the altar of Adam and his son Seth.
(c) The next stop is the site of the Everlasting Hill [The Everlasting Hill, Deuteronomy 33:15].
(d) The next is the site of God Will Provide [God Will Provide, Genesis 22:8], where Abraham saw the ram in the thicket when he was about to sacrifice his son, Isaac.
(e) The following stop is the site of the Altar of Isaac.
(f) The next station is the Altar of Noah.
(g) The next stop is the site of the Everlasting Hill. Formerly, two monuments of Jacob marked the place and this was the third station.

We dedicate the prayers to the Exodus from Egypt and to the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

At the end, we enjoy a festive meal together.
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Photos: Ori Orhof

Hear the late High Priest Aaron announce the beginning prayer of the Israelite Samaritan Passover [Deuteronomy 32:3-4] (Thanks to Dr. Stefan Schorch for this recording).

Video of the High Priest Blessing at Passover 2013 by Ori Orhof

You Tube film of Passover:

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One Response

  1. Todah!
    How do the Samaritans understand the rules concerning Chametz? How do they differ from the Rabbinical or Jewish understanding?

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