(Samaritans on Mt. Gerizim: from Wikipedia)

Most Christians only know about the Samaritans from few passages in the New Testament gospels. Today the Samaritan people and religion struggle to survive in the face of the larger communities of Muslims, and Jews along with Christians in Palestine and Israel. There are only 780 left in two small communities that are looking forward to being part of a future Palestinian country.

The following comes from a good article about the Modern Samaritans found in the Al-Monitor, however a current Link to the post is no longer available:

NABLUS, West Bank — Mount Gerizim, south of Nablus in the northern West Bank, is home to the Samaritans, who call themselves the world’s smallest religious community. There are some 780 Samaritans total, distributed between Gerizim, where 380 of them live, and the city of Holon in Israel, where they number 400. …

The Samaritans celebrate seven holidays a year. One is Passover, during which they present offerings to God, who made way for the Israelites to save them from the Pharaoh. Among their Passover traditions, Samaritans eat unleavened bread and bitter herbs, commemorating the bitterness of life in Egypt. The others are the Feast of the Unleavened Bread, which lasts for six days, the Harvest Festival, Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year), Yom Kippur, Sukkot and Shavuot. …

The holiest place for Samaritans is the summit of Mount Gerizim, which they believe to have been the chosen location for the holy temple. By order of Israel, the area is now fenced off and only accessible to the Samaritans for pilgrimage three times a year, during Passover, the Harvest Festival and Sukkot.

The Samaritans are led by a high priest, the eldest member of the Levites, who are descendants of Eleazer, the second high priest of the sect and son of Aaron, the first high priest and Moses’ older brother who accompanied Moses during the Exodus. Abdullah Tawfiq is the current high priest.

Response: What is particularly interesting to Bible scholars is their ancient Torah scroll (first five books of the Bible) which they claim to be older than any other OT manuscripts presently extant. Far older than even the Dead Sea scrolls.

Scholars have noted at least 7000 differences between the Jewish copies of the same books in the printed editions. Most of them minor. However, only Samaritan priests are allowed to see and handle the original scroll so the claims of ancient origins  and accuracy cannot be confirmed.

From the Jewish perspective, the Samaritans are a mixed people that were refused access to the post-exilic temple worship in Jerusalem so started their own cult based on Mount Gerizim. The Samaritans on the other hand claim to have genealogical records that stretch back 163 generations and say that worship at Mount Gerizim predates the temple in Jerusalem. 

Here are links to other articles about the Samaritans:

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