A tiny remnant of an old community, Samaritans are now reduced to some 780 souls, as they find their greatest challenge in finding ways to marry while keeping their religion, writes Ahmad Melhem in Al Monitor (Sept. 20). Of those 780 Samaritans, 380 live in Gerizim (in the northern West Bank), near the mount that is considered their sacred center, while the other 400 reside in the city of Holon, in Israel. They hold Palestinian, Israeli and Jordanian passports. Samaritans claim to use the “authentic” Torah, written in Hebrew 13 years after their ancestors reached the Holy Land. There are reportedly “7,000 differences in verses and words between the Samaritan and the Jewish Torah,” according to Melhem. Their highest religious authority is a high priest and elected committees in Gerizim and Holon manage community affairs. With so few members, survival represents a constant demographic challenge, especially because of the lack of females. During the past 40 years, according to a Samaritan priest who is the curator of the Samaritan Museum, young Samaritans have managed to marry 40 girls who have converted.
(Al Monitor, http://www.al-monitor.com)