At 12 noon on Wednesday 6 January 2016, High Priest Abed-el Ben-Asher and the seven members of his entourage arrived at the Jerusalem residence of President Rivlin of Israel. Their brief: to award the President of Israel, Mr. Reuven Rivlin, the Israelite-Samaritan Medal of Peace and Humanitarian Achievement.
Special Relationship Between President Rivlin and Samaritans
President Rivlin warmly embraced High Priest Abed-el and his entourage, comprising Asher, his eldest son; Isaac Altif, Secretary of the Community Committee in Kiryat Luza; Hanan Altif and Ben-Yehuda Altif, Committee members in Kiryat Luza; Oved Altif, Member of the Holon Community Committee; and the brothers Benyamim and Yefet Tsedaka.
After the exchange of courtesies, High Priest Abed-el expressed his hope that the President will continue to be active in promoting peace, adding ‘Without peace there is no better future for the peoples of the region’. President Rivlin assured the group that his activities in this area would continue. He mentioned that he has known the Samaritans for several decades, and feels a special affection for them. He recalled that his family has lived in Jerusalem for the past 210 years, in peace and friendship alongside the Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities.
Har Bracha Tahini – The Best!
High Priest Abed-El is the owner of the factory that produces Har Bracha Tahini in Kiryat Luza, and he gave President Rivlin a personal gift from the business. The latter commented that Har Bracha is the most delicious tahini he knows, adding that the product is in regular use in the president’s house. The High Priest’s entourage nodded enthusiastically at the President’s remarks.
The Samaritans first came to the interest of Mr Rivlin through the activity of the second President, Yitzhak Ben-Zvi. Mr Rivlin learned to love and respect the Samaritans and in his years as a Knesset member he helped to find solutions to many of the problems that plagued them.
Host and guests stood for the ceremony of awarding the medal to President Rivlin. Yefet Ben Ratson Tsedaka and the secretary Yitzhak Altif read the reasons for the award in Hebrew and English.
At the annual meeting of the board in Washington DC, on 29 November 2015, following a proposal by the chairman Benyamim Tsedaka, The Samaritan Medal Foundation had decided to award the medal to the President of the State of Israel, Reuven Rivlin. The proposal was carried unanimously by the seven members of the Board.
The award to President Rivlin is recognition of his peace-making efforts in the region, his efforts to bring the communities of Israel together, his work strengthening ties between the people of the State of Israel and Jewish communities in the Diaspora, and his longstanding friendship with the Israelite Samaritans.
Presentation of The Israelite Keepers
A copy of Benyamim Tsedaka’s The History of the Israelite Keepers Based on their Own Sources was presented to President Rivlin, who expressed his thanks and appreciation for the book, the product of ten years’ work.
After the visit discussions were held with the President, a main topic being the expansion of the Samaritan neighbourhood in Holon. President Rivlin asked that the matter be submitted to him in a memorandum. In turn, he will look into the issue of promoting the growing Samaritan community of Holon, and will seek to advance their cause.
Host and guests expressed their full satisfaction with the visit. President Rivlin expressed his pleasure at being awarded the Samaritan Medal. He thanked High Priest Abed-El and his entourage for the visit, the medal and the book.
Samaritan Medal Foundation