The coffin of the High Priest of the small Samaritan nation - Yossef b. Av-Hisda Ha`abta`ai, a direct descendant, generation no. 124, to Itamar the son of priest Aharon the brother of Moshe Rabbenu - was brought to the Samaritan cemetery on Gerizim Mt., to his final rest.

Behind the coffin were walking houndreds of escorts. The choked weeping`s yells of the deceased`s sons were swallowed into the mighty mourning tune. In the crowd were seen, walking side by side, the heads of the Israeli Civilian Administration, and the heads of the palestinian authority in Shchem. Among the houndreds of members of the Samaritan community, that many of them were seen wiping out tears with bended heads, also were seen Jews who arrived from all over the country, side by side with many residents of Shchem, Chabad Hassidim and colonists from Samaria, the members of the Christian Embassy from Jerusalem, and an army of news, radio and television reporters. An invisible scope, but so perceived, of worldly peace - was spread out above the escorts convoy, during this painfull hour.

The High Priest Yossef has died. He was 79 years old when he died” - cryied the members of the community with grief, and added with hope: “May God gives long life to the new High Priest - Levi.”


The High Priest Yossef began to serve in this duty in 26th of Jan. 1987, the same day when the previous High Priest Ya`akov B. Azi son of the High Priest Ya`akov Ha`abta`ai was brought to his final rest. He was chosen by heaven because him being the oldest priest among the priesthood family.

He was the 16th priest, eight according to this principle, since 1624 - the year when the High Priest the Rabban Shelmaya b. Pinchas died in Shchem, the last descendant of the high priesthood family, sons of Pinchas, grandson of Aharon, who was promised - he, Pinchas and all his descendant - the high priesthood, as a circumcision. The depletion in number of people at the small Israeli=Samaritan nation down to only a few houndreds, has striked the Pinchasi priesthood family also. The last descendant didn`t has a son. So then the high priesthood was transfered to the priests family - sons of Itamar, son of Aharon - and by itself the principle - of the son inherits the high priesthood from his father - was changed (a custom which was firm and abiding since arriving to Israel with Yehoshoo`a Bin Noon, through 112 generations) to the principle of “the priest who`s older then his brother”, which the Samaritans were accustomed to it, during the last 16 generations, since the second quarter of the 17th century. The Samaritans` Sages were very consistent in using this principle, in order to prevent leaving the selection of the high priest, in human hands.


The High Priest Yossef b. Av-Hisda, son of Ya`akov (God bless him) had fulfilled his duty very wisely, and during the 11 years of his priesthood he felt that his duty was to make peace and to solve personal problems among this very competetive community.

He managed to navigate the small ship of the community between the political wave breakers, which are menacing to drown it. He was an inspiretion - by his name and blessing - on outstanding personages from the community, who tryed and still are, to help the community to walk between the Israeli, Palestinian and Jordanian raindrops. As a natural Peace-Lover, the High Priest had managed wisely to bequeath a policy of non-active-involvement, which means - maintaining vicinity relationship and kinship with all the political factors which are meddling in the political turmoil in Samaria.

The High Priest were a handsome man, average height, shinning eyes and constantly welcomes cordially everyone who is around him. He was loved and adored by the members of his community, even by those who hoped he would solve their personal problems but were not satisfied. His houses in Schem and on Gerizim Mt. attracted thousands of visitors from all over the country and all over the world, who came to ask for his advice and get an impression of his greatness.


A great sadness fulfil his heart when on 21.3.95 unknown thieves broke into the synagogue in Schem and stole from the Holy Ark - two ancient Torah books (which were written 700 years ago) that because of a daily use, they weren`t kept inside the safe. Since then, the two ancient manuscripts were seen twice in a hiding place at Rabat Amon.

The High Priest never desist from holding meetings with the heads of Schem and the Palestinian Authority, who made efforts to act as middlement, concerning these holy books, but untill now - without any success. The High Priest Yossef sometimes expressed his fear to be the first High Priest in the Samaritan history, that it will be written about him - that during the days of his priesthood Torah books were stolen. He was committed to their secure and did the best he can to assure the returning of the ancient manuscripts, before he will die.

The Samaritans are Concerned From the Developments in the Political Level

A.B. editorial board has received many calls from Samaritans that are concerned from the Developments in the political level, with a view to the impletation of the second phase of the withdrawal of the Israeli authority from areas that belongs both to the Palestinian and the Israeli authority as well as the withdrawal from areas that belongs only to the Israeli authority, and will pass to the possesion of the Palestinian athority. This concern does'nt have any political meaning, but a true anxiety from the separation that may be caused between the two parts of the Samaritan community - the one in Gerizim mountain and the one in Holon.

Soon Israel may hand over to the secretary of the U.S.A - Mrs. Medlain Olbrigth - the withdrawal map, offered by Israel as "The second Throb". Israel stipulates this withdrawel by list of prerequisites and clauses, that approves the Palestinian athority. Nevertheless, the U.S.A. - that acts as a middleman/a pusher/a compromiser between both sides - accepts in principle the idea of withdrawal, but demands carrying out fully all the Palestinians obligations from the Oslo Agreement. The bottom line - The second withdrawal will soon be implemented. The question that bothers the Samaritans is: "What will be the destiny of Gerizim mountain?"

Both - the offers from 'The second Throb" that are suggested in principle by the Israeli government, and the maps the government drew - there is a common denomination of leaving the approaching pivots in Shomron, under the rule of both the Israeli and the Palestinian authority. This need is purly a security need of Israel, and not necessarily because of the small Israeli presence in the Shomron area. To this we add the esteem that Gerizim mount - as a strategic property - will remain both under Israel and Palestinian rule.

High Priest Yosef Ben Ab'Hisda Ha'Habta'i sent an urgent appeal to the Prime Minister of Israel - Mr. Binyamin Nethanyahu. High Priest Yosef has demanded that in any settlement - whether in Throbs or in the future permanence settlement - the continuous conection between the two parts of the Samaritan community, The most ancient one in the world, will be assured. This apeal was hand over immediately to the Prime Minister, for his perusal.

As far as we know, there are more then few Samaritans that takes initiative and appeals to a different Israeli governmental factors, in order to express their worryies. We must not criticize them, but strongly encourage those initiatives. As many as the appeals will be, so the chance of kipping the wrights of the Samaritans - as an unseparated part of the peace process - will grow bigger. Nevertheless, one must avoid carrying out meetings only for the cause of meeting, and without any substantial results.

As an answer to the many references, A.B. editors tried to calm them having said that one has to get used to the new political reality that was formed in the Shomron. During a meeting with many people from the Samaritans in Gerizim mount, Benyamim Tsedaka spent a large part of his speech to calm the community members.He made clear that nither the Israeli government nor the Palestiniat authority will basically change their planes on account of the Samaritans, but during contacts between Samaritans and the different political factors intouched with the peace process - again and again they express their supportive stand towards the Samaritans. We remain prolonged contacts with the Americans and the Britainians, through their representatives in Israel, and we won't hesitate to fly overboard to the capitals of U.S.A. and of Britain, to make sure they won't stop their back-up for remaining the basic rights of the sraelite=samaritans. we have the obligation of the Foreign Office to the Samaritans' status in any political settlement, togather with the Americans obligation for the Samaritans' well being, and also the British secretary of State's appeal to his representative in Israel, to make sure kipping the Samaritans' rights in any political situation.

The meetings with senior personages from the Palestinian authority are continued. In addition to the fact that a Samaritan representative serves in the Palestinian council, and has a direct connection with the chairman - Mr. Yasser Arafat - we continue to check the position of other seniors from the Palestinian authority. Not long ago, Mr. Abd El'Illah El'Attireh - head of the Palestinian Ministry of the Interior in Shchem - has accepted the invitation of A.B. editors, and arrived to Holon for a visit at the editorial-board and at A.B. institute. Mr. El'Attireh expressed his admiration from the work that is done at the editorial-board and at the institute, and emphasized again - the obligation of the Palastinian authority to remain the continuous conection and free-pass between the Samaritans from the State of Israel and the Samaritans from Gerizim mount and Shchem - in any political situation. On the day after his visit, Mr. El'Attireh sent a gratitude latter for the hospitality. The guest came with the accompaniment of his wife - Sa'ideh - and his sister - Addaleh, who is the city-engineer of Ramallah.

A new book as well as the first one ever written - That was published by the Samaritan comunity in Kiriat Luza and in Shchem - tries to explane the history of the Samaritans, their holidays and their tradition, to the Arabic and to the palestinian communities. The author of this book is - Priest Elazar Ben Tsedaka Ha'Habta'i, 71 years old, one of the priests and heads of the Samaritan community.

The author titled his book [Written in Arabic] with the word: 'The history, the holidays, and the tradition of the Samaritan community - in short". The book [in a flexible cover] contains 66 pages, and in addition to them there are 8 pages of preface, plus 4 ending pages, which contains the biography of the author, plus 8 pages of pictures from priest Elazar's personal archives. Total of 86 pages in the book.

The 8 pages of the preface bears the stamp of the author that included the preface thatwas written by him, and one page of approval - formulated by the poet - Mr. Lutfi E. Zaglul, who halped Priest Elazar in publishing the book and with linguistic ending.

In his own approval, Mr. Zaglul describes his friendly relationship, and remines the that Priest Elazar wrote many articles about the Samaritans, and that he keeps those manuscripts.

In the preface, the author mentions the reasons for publishing his books:

The lack of means to learn about the Samaritans - in the Arabic Librarys, in Palestin and all over the Arabic world.

Providing correct facts about the Samaritan religion - to the Arabic people.

The need of the Arabic sholars to hear about the Samaritans and their tradion - from the Samaritans themselves, when all the literature about the Samaritans was'nt written by them, and has many incorrect facts.

The fact that many relates to the Samaritans as Jews, and without any doubt they are not Jews, but conserved through the generations, their Israely Identity. [In this case itws hard to assume that the book would change the official- political - standpoint of the Palestinian authority - who sees the Samaritans as "Palestin Jews".

The book starts with a short description of the history of the Samaritans, facts and figures, about them and their distribution through out the generations. In the folowing pages the author describes in brief - the principles of the religion, the names of Gerizim mountain, the version of the Torah which the Samaritan shave, Traditional Food, Marriage customs, Rules of Prayer, Holidays, Impurity and Purity laws, Inheritance issues, Mourning laws, the Holly Places, and a few short Stories from the History of the Samaritans. The book is sealed with the quotation that describes three of the Samaritans wiseacres who lived during the period of the Mamaluck reign in Israel, as it was written in the book of the moslem wiseacre - Ibn Abu Ausbi'aa: "Eyun El'Anba fi Tabaqat El'Atiba" [= New Springs in Medical Levels] who died in the year 667 La'ttgra [=1269], and was one of the friends of the wise and strict Samaritan Vazir - Abu El'Faragh Nafis El'Din Ibn Abu Ischaq Ibn Qattar.

At the end of the book, Priest Elazar notes the four books that was written by him in Arabic, and are waiting to be published:

The way to the faith knowledge.

The interpretation of the Names in the Torah.

Tradition issues.

The curriculum vitae of Aharon - The brother of moses.

Priest Elazar published a fotographed edition of the manuscript of Samaritan's translation of the Torah, in Arabic.

The book was written in a very readable style, which brings the reader closer to the rudiments of the Samaritans tradition. As we've been told, it is requested by the Arabs and the Palestinians.

The author dedicated his book in memory of his uncle - high priest Amram Ben Itzhaq, and his father - Priest Tsedaka - they who educated and taught the knoeledge of the Samaritan religion and his life-wisdom.

Priest Elazar Ben Tsedaka, a retired teacher, does an outstanding public utility and literary activity among the Samaritan community. He and his relatives own the most important manuscripts colection from all the Samaritans' private colections. Priest Elazar composed many Samaritans song and poetry, and composed Arabic poetry too. He writes constantly to the A.B. newspaper, and goined delegation - dealling with science and political issues - that flew to Russia and the U.S.A.

Benyamim and Yefet Tsedaka
A.B. - The Samaritan News And Institute 1029
These two pages edited by Roey Tsedaka