Thursday, October 18, 2012

Samaritan Style Shabbat

Two years ago I took you to the Israeli city of Holon for Sukkot where part of Israel's Samaritan community lives. You might remember the fabulous indoor Sukkah I posted. This time I'm going to share a Samaritan Shabbat with you.

White is the operative color for Shabbat. An all-white caftan is considered the equivalent of a tallit. And talk about observing Shabbat according to the letter of the law? That's exactly what Samaritans -- Shomronim in Hebrew -- do.  Because the Torah specifically commands that we should not do work of any kind -- and work involves creation -- Samaritans do not light Shabbat candles because it is an act of work/creation, nor do they use electricity. To make sure they are literally not left in the dark, they leave one to two lights lit during the entire Shabbat.

In fact, the use of electricity is such a no-no, they use two refrigerators. They turn the electricity off of one fridge and put their Shabbat food in it, knowing that the cold air inside will keep the food in healthy, eating condition.  But perishables for the rest of the week that need constant blasts of cold air to keep them fresh? That food is placed in the second refrigerator which is kept on and never opened during Shabbat.

Quite a clever system.  But by now you must be asking if there is nearly no electricity in use, what do they do to pass the time? Let's not forget that Shabbat is a day of rest, so rest they do -- rest and sleep. Of course, not all the time.  Here's the schedule: Shabbat prayers Friday night followed by the Shabbat meal and family visit (usually 2 hours), after which they go to sleep. That means during the winter they're asleep by 7-8 p.m.!!! But they don't sleep the night away. It's up and at it at the synagogue at 3 a.m. for Shabbat morning prayers for both men and women, lasting approximately three hours.  At 6 a.m. they go to either grandparents or great uncles/aunts to read the Parshat Hashavua -- weekly Torah portion.

All this makes for a healthy appetite, so home they go for a sumptuous breakfast of Israeli salads. What's one of their favorites? Eggplant and pomegranate salad.  Try it for yourself and share this different way of celebrating Shabbat with your children and students. Shabbat Shalom....

Elderly Samaritan Photo Credit
Young Samaritan Photo Credit

1 comment:

  1. In fact, the Samaritans do not light Shabbat candles because they believe, like the Karaite Jews, that no fire, even if pre-lit prior to Shabbat, may keep burning during Shabbat.

    Their females are totally exempt from prayer duty except on Yom Kippur. They do not attend synagogue except on YK and, to a lesser extent, the other Appointed Times detailed in the Torah.