Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The Samaritans Today

The BBC has a brief profile of the modern Samaritans and some of the challenges they face, including their uneasy position between Jews and Arabs, and their hesitance to bring outsiders into the community.

For hundreds of years, the Samaritans have been caught between warring groups.

Before, they would take sides, but now they are trying a new approach - neutrality.

They are building good relations with their Palestinian and Jewish neighbours and are unique in the region for having both Israeli and Palestinian identity papers.

This means they can travel between Israel and the West Bank with ease.

Some entrepreneurial Samaritans are now using their unique status to offer a delivery service to businessmen in the West Bank town of Nablus, just a few miles away from Mount Gerizim.

[...]

In the 1920s their numbers dropped to just over 100 and it was predicted that they would die out.

The community was struggling with birth defects because of their tradition of marrying other Samaritans, and they were not open to new converts.

But some now say that to survive, they must open up to outsiders.

[...]

More recently, an American woman has made history by becoming the first person to convert to the Samaritan faith without marrying in.

Originally from Michigan, Sharon Sullivan now lives with her four children within the Samaritan community.

The full story is here

HT: Paleojudaica

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