The Israelite Samaritans and the Festival of Unleavened Bread
As a photographer, I capture memories…memories of events, landscapes, and people...all infused with a level of personal experience. On some occasions, personal experience involves a personal relationship.
Moreover, as a photographer, I sometimes have photographic opportunities that are unanticipated and inexplicable. All of the above elements infuse my exhibition, The Israelite Samaritans and the Festival of Unleavened Bread: Photographs by Dale Lazar.
In March, 2013, while attending a World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ) Biennial in Israel with my wife, Lynn, I was asked by an Israeli friend, Archie Granot, to accompany him on a photo field trip to photograph the Shomronim…to which I agreed, having no idea what I agreed to! Little did I know I would leave Tel Aviv at 2:00 AM with twelve Israeli photographers; travel for an hour by bus; cross the Israeli border into the West Bank; visit the tiny town of Kiryat Luza on Mt. Gerizim (near Nablus).
At Kiryat Luza, I photographed a distinctive religious group who wore simple white garments, prayed in a synagogue in a language indiscernable to Hebew speaking Israelis, and then walked to a mountaintop in the dark where they continued their prayers (stopping at seven stations), and concluded their prayers around 7:00 AM.
Upon returning to the United States, I was haunted by this perplexing experience and began my research. I read everything that was available on the web, skimmed a few books about the Israelite Samaritans and contacted Benyamim (Benny) Tsedaka, elder, historian and publisher of a Samaritan newspaper. What began as a search for understanding culminated in a special friendship. This exhibit, The Israelite Samaritans and the Festival of Unleavened Bread: Photographs by Dale Lazar, is the result of my personal experiences with the Israelite Samaritan religious community and particularly Benny Tsedaka, my new friend.