The Samaritan religion, also known as Samaritanism, is the national religion of the Samaritans. The Samaritans adhere to the Samaritan Torah, which they believe is the original, unchanged Torah, as opposed to the Torah used by Jews. In addition to the Samaritan Torah, Samaritans also revere their version of the Book of Joshua and recognize some Biblical figures, such as Eli.
Samaritanism is internally described as the religion that began with Moses, unchanged over the millennia that have since passed. Samaritans believe Judaism and the Jewish Torah have been corrupted by time and no longer serve the duties God mandated on Mount Sinai. Jews view the Temple Mount as the most sacred location in their faith, but Samaritans regard Mount Gerizim as their holiest site.
Samaritanism holds that the summit of Mount Gerizim is the true location of God's Holy Place, as opposed to the Foundation Stone on the Temple Mount as Judaism teaches. As such, Samaritans trace their history as a separate entity from the Jews back to the time of Moses, where they believe Joshua laid the foundation for their temple. Samaritan historiography traces the schism itself to the High Priest Eli abandoning Moses' Tabernacle in favor of Mount Gerizim following Joshua's death.
A terrible civil war broke out between Eli son of Yafni, of the line of Ithamar, and the sons of Pincus (Phinehas), because Eli son of Yafni resolved to usurp the High Priesthood from the descendants of Pincus. He used to offer sacrifices on an altar of stones. He was 50 years old, endowed with wealth and in charge of the treasury of the Children of Israel. ...
He offered a sacrifice on the altar, but without salt, as if he were inattentive. When the Great High Priest Ozzi learned of this, and found the sacrifice was not accepted, he thoroughly disowned him; and it is (even) said that he rebuked him.
Thereupon he and the group that sympathized with him, rose in revolt and at once he and his followers and his beasts set off for Shiloh. Thus Israel split in factions. He sent to their leaders saying to them, Anyone who would like to see wonderful things, let him come to me. Then he assembled a large group around him in Shiloh, and built a Temple for himself there; he constructed a place like the Temple (on Mount Gerizim). He built an altar, omitting no detail—it all corresponded to the original, piece by piece.
At this time the Children of Israel split into three factions. A loyal faction on Mount Gerizim; a heretical faction that followed false gods; and the faction that followed Eli son of Yafni in Shiloh.
Further, the Samaritan Chronicle Adler, or New Chronicle, believed to have been composed in the 18th century using earlier chronicles as sources states:
And the Children of Israel in his days divided into three groups. One did according to the abominations of the Gentiles and served other gods; another followed Eli the son of Yafni, although many of them turned away from him after he had revealed his intentions; and a third remained with the High Priest Uzzi ben Bukki, the chosen place.
Samaritanism emerged as an independent ethnic culture following its survival of the Assyrian captivity in the 8th century BC. Jewish sources attest their own narrative of the origins of the Samaritans. From here there are conflicting proposals, including the Samaritans being the people of Kutha described in the Talmud. The traditional Jewish narrative of 2 Kings and Josephus, details the people of Israel were removed by the king of the Assyrians (Sargon II) to Halah, to Gozan on the Khabur River and to the towns of the Medes. The king of the Assyrians then brought people from Babylon, Kutha, Avah, Emath, and Sepharvaim to place in Samaria. Because God sent lions among them to kill them, the king of the Assyrians sent one of the priests from Bethel to teach the new settlers about God's ordinances. The eventual result was that the new settlers worshiped both the God of the land and their own gods from the countries from which they came. However, genetic studies showed the Samaritans are almost definitely descendants of the historical Israelite population, albeit isolated given the people's reclusive history. This casts doubt into, if not totally disproves, this historical theory that Samaritans originated from Assyria.
Furthermore, the Dead Sea scroll 4Q372, which recounts the hope that the northern tribes will return to the land of Joseph, remark that the current dwellers in the north are fools, an enemy people, but they are not explicitly referred to as foreigners. It goes on to say that these people, the Samaritans, mocked Jerusalem and built a temple on a high place (Gerizim) to provoke Israel.
Conflict between the Samaritans and the Jews were numerous between the end of the Assyrian diaspora and to the Bar Kokhba revolt. The Tanakh describes multiple instigations from the Samaritan population against the Jews and disparages them, Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan also gives evidence of conflict. The destruction of Mount Gerizim's Samaritan temple is attributed to the High Priest John Hyrcanus.
Following the failed revolts, Mount Gerizim was rededicated with a new temple, which was ultimately again destroyed during the Samaritan Revolts. Persecution of Samaritans was common in the following centuries.
The Samaritans have retained an offshoot of the Ancient Hebrew script, a High Priesthood, the slaughtering and eating of lambs on Passover eve, and the celebration of the first month's beginning around springtime as the New Year. Yom Teru'ah (the Biblical name for "Rosh Hashanah"), at the beginning of Tishrei, is not considered a New Year as it is in Rabbinic Judaism.
Passover is particularly important in the Samaritan community, climaxing with the sacrifice of up to 40 sheep. The Counting of the Omer remains largely unchanged; however, the week before Shavuot is a unique festival celebrating the continued commitment Samaritanism has maintained since the time of Moses. Shavuot is characterized by nearly day-long services of continuous prayer, especially over the stones on Gerizim traditionally attributed to Joshua. During Sukkot, the sukkah is built inside houses as opposed to traditional outdoor settings. The restrictions of Yom Kippur are more universal in Samaritanism, with even breastfeeding and the feeding of children being disallowed, and the separation of gender during services is never enforced.
Samaritan law differs from Halakha (Rabbinic Jewish law) and other Jewish movements. The Samaritans have several groups of religious texts, which correspond to Jewish Halakha. A few examples of such texts are:
The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as Abrahamism, are a group of Semitic-originated religious communities of faith that claim descent from the Judaism of the ancient Israelites and the worship of the God of Abraham. The Abrahamic religions are monotheistic, with the term deriving from the patriarch Abraham (a major biblical figure from the Old Testament, which is recognized by Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others).Abrahamic religion spread globally through Christianity being adopted by the Roman Empire in the 4th century and Islam by the Islamic Empires from the 7th century. Today the Abrahamic religions are one of the major divisions in comparative religion (along with Indian, Iranian, and East Asian religions). The major Abrahamic religions in chronological order of founding are Judaism (the base of the other two religions) in the 7th century BCE, Christianity in the 1st century CE, and Islam in the 7th century CE.
Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are the Abrahamic religions with the greatest numbers of adherents. Abrahamic religions with fewer adherents include the faiths descended from Yazdânism (the Yezidi, Yarsani faiths), Samaritanism, the Druze faith, Bábism, the Bahá'í Faith, and Rastafari.As of 2005, estimates classified 54% (3.6 billion people) of the world's population as adherents of an Abrahamic religion, about 32% as adherents of other religions, and 16% as adherents of no organized religion. Christianity claims 33% of the world's population, Islam has 21%, Judaism has 0.2% and the Bahá'í Faith represents around 0.1%.Anastasius of Samaria
Anastasius (Greek: Αναστάσιος) was a Byzantine official, active in the reign of Justin II (r. 565–578). He held the positions of magister officiorum and quaestor sacri palatii. He seems to have died by the mid-570s.Anastasius was a native of Samaria, as recorded by John of Ephesus. The same primary source calls Anastasius both a Samaritan and a Palestinian, presumably as geographic terms.He is first mentioned as the subject of a panegyric composed by Flavius Cresconius Corippus. The poem is dated to late 565 or early 566. It describes Anastasius as holding the offices of magister officiorum and quaestor sacri palatii. This indicates that Anastasius had been appointed by Justin II, soon after the latter rose to the throne (14–15 November 565). He was presumably a loyal supporter or political ally of Justin. He probably succeeded Constantine as quaestor and Peter the Patrician as magister. Both men were long-serving ministers of Justinian I (r. 527–565) and Justin would want to replace them with his own loyalists.By the time Corippus wrote In laudem Justini minoris, his 566 panegyric in honour of Justin II, Anastasius had been replaced as magister officiorum. His immediate successor was apparently Theodore "Kondocheres" ("Shorthand"), a son of Peter the Patrician. On the other hand, Anastasius still held the position of quaestor into the 570s. Corripus keeps mentioning him as a quaestor in the second panegyric. John of Ephesus mentions him as the active quaestor in 571/572.Corippus credits Anastasius with measures aimed to help the Praetorian prefecture of Africa. John of Ephesus lists him as one of the officials opposed to Justin's amendments to the edict of the faith, c. 570. The amendments were considered favourable to the Monophysites and scandalised the Chalcedonians. His opposition to the amendments and John criticizing him as a false Christian, probably means that Anastasius himself was a Chalcedonian. The narrative of John contains a tale where Justin terrorizes Anastasius. The emperor reportedly ordered the quaestor to have twenty copies of the amended text by nightfall, or else face execution by decapitation.In 571, Anastasius was sent by Justin to discuss reconciliation terms with the monophysites. Their representatives refused to co-operate and Anastasius reported the failure to Justin. This ended the brief pro-monophysite period of Justin. On 22 March, 571, Justin started a new persecution of the monophysites. Anastasius was prominent among the senators conducting trials of monophysite bishops in 571 and 572. The trials took place at Constantinople, with most of the accused sentenced to exile. He co-operated closely with John Scholasticus, Patriarch of Constantinople. John of Ephesus accuses Anastasius of being in the Patriarch's payroll.A particularly hostile chapter of John of Ephesus alleges that Anastasius was a crypto-pagan, struggling to prevent the Christian Church from ever unifying. Anastasius' constant harassment of monophysites probably explains the hostility of the historian. John of Ephesus cites that when Samaritans came under religious persecution, Anastasius bribed officials to drop the charges. A minority of modern historians have suggested that Anastasius could have been an adherent of Samaritanism, posing as a Christian. Most consider him a genuine Chalcedonian, the charges against him being purely political.Anastasius reportedly suffered a seizure during "the day of the adoration of the Holy Cross". This could have been a Good Friday. Both 15 April 572 (Good Friday, 572) and 7 April 573 (Good Friday, 573) have been suggested as the date of the event. This sign of failing health was a precursor to his death, taking place "a year and a half" later. By 575, Anastasius seems to have died.Christopher Heath Wellman
Christopher “Kit” Heath Wellman (born February 22, 1967) is an American philosopher. He teaches at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is also dean of academic planning for Arts & Sciences. He is best known for his distinctive views on core questions in political theory, including political legitimacy, secession, the duty to obey the law, immigration, and the permissibility of punishment.Eutychius of Alexandria
Eutychius of Alexandria (Arabic: Sa'id ibn Batriq or Bitriq; 10 September 877 – 12 May 940) was the Melkite Patriarch of Alexandria. He is known for being one of the first Christian Egyptian writers to use the Arabic language. His writings include the chronicle Nazm al-Jauhar ("Row of Jewels"), also known by its Latin title Eutychii Annales ("The Annals of Eutychius").Hanan Eshel
Hanan Eshel (Born at Rehovot on July 25, 1958, died April 8, 2010) was an Israeli archaeologist and historian, well known in the field of Dead Sea Scrolls studies, although he did research in the Hasmonean and Bar Kokhba periods as well. With Magen Broshi he discovered a number of residential caves in the near vicinity of Qumran and co-published a number of historically significant documents from Qumran.Holy Land (disambiguation)
The Holy Land refers to any place that is considered sacred.
Holy Land, roughly the area of modern Israel and Palestine, considered holy by adherents of Abrahamic religions which originated from there (Judaism, Samaritanism, Christianity, Druze) and even Islam
Indian subcontinent, considered holy by adherents of Dharmic religions which originated from there (Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism)Holy Land, The Holy Land or Holyland may also refer to:
Holy Land is a name often used for the Crusader states, which spanned a broader area
Holyland, a neighborhood in southern Jerusalem
Holyland Case, about the Holyland complex in Jerusalem, involving Ehud Olmert
The Holyland Model of Jerusalem, which used to be in the Holyland Hotel in southern Jerusalem and is now in the Israel Museum
Holy Land (Liverpool) refers to an area of south Toxteth, Liverpool, with streets named after Biblical characters
Holyland (Belfast), an area in Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK, so named for its streets with names like Damascus Street, notable for incidents of anti-social student behaviour
The Holyland (Wisconsin), a region in Wisconsin
Holy Land Experience, a theme park in Orlando, Florida, USA
Holy Land USA, a miniature representation of Jerusalem and Bethlehem in Waterbury, Connecticut
Holy Land (album), a concept album by Brazilian power metal band Angra
Holy Land, a planned attraction at Ghost Town in the Sky theme park in Maggie Valley, North Carolina, USA
The Holy Land (album), a concept album by American country singer Johnny Cash
Holyland (drama), a Japanese dramaList of converts to Judaism
This article lists nations, groups or tribes, as well as notable individuals, who have converted to Judaism. This article does not differentiate between the different branches of Judaism. See also Who is a Jew? on issues related to the acceptance of conversions throughout the Jewish community.
Note that a number of prominent figures, such as Madonna, Demi Moore, and Ariana Grande have recently become followers of a "new age" version of Kabbalah, derived from the body of Jewish mystical teaching also called Kabbalah, but do not consider themselves – and are not considered – Jewish.List of religious sites
This article provides an incomplete list and broad overview of significant religious sites and places of spiritual importance throughout the world. Sites are listed alphabetically by religion.Lunar New Year
Lunar New Year is the beginning of a calendar year whose months are coordinated by the cycles of the moon. The relevant calendar may be a purely lunar calendar or a lunisolar calendar.Organized religion
Organized religion (or organised religion—see spelling differences), also known as institutional religion, is religion in which belief systems and rituals are systematically arranged and formally established. Organized religion is typically characterized by an official doctrine (or dogma), a hierarchical or bureaucratic leadership structure, and a codification of rules and practices.Pseudo-Tertullian
Pseudo-Tertullian is the scholarly name for the unknown author of Adversus Omnes Haereses, an appendix to the work De praescriptionem haereticorum of Tertullian. It lists 32 heresies, and there is consensus that this work is not by Tertullian himself.A traditional theory is that the work is a Latin translation of a Greek original, a lost work Syntagma written by Hippolytus, c. 220. Recent scholarship, agreeing with a theory of Richard Adelbert Lipsius, suggests that this work Syntagma was the common source for Philastrius and the Panarion of Epiphanius, also.The name "Pseudo-Tertullian" is also applied to the author of a poem written against Marcion. The Catholic Encyclopedia describes it as "doggerel hexameters", and mentions two theories: that the poem was written by Commodian; and that Adversus Omnes Haereses was written by Victorinus of Pettau.Rabbinic Judaism
Rabbinic Judaism (Hebrew: יהדות רבנית Yahadut Rabanit), also called Rabbinism, has been the mainstream form of Judaism since the 6th century CE, after the codification of the Babylonian Talmud. Growing out of Pharisaic Judaism, Rabbinic Judaism is based on the belief that at Mount Sinai, Moses received from God the Written Torah (Pentateuch) in addition to an oral explanation, known as the "Oral Torah," that Moses transmitted to the people.
Rabbinic Judaism contrasts with the Sadducees, Karaite Judaism and Samaritanism, which do not recognize the oral law as a divine authority nor the rabbinic procedures used to interpret Jewish scripture. Although there are now profound differences among Jewish denominations of Rabbinic Judaism with respect to the binding force of halakha (Jewish religious law) and the willingness to challenge preceding interpretations, all identify themselves as coming from the tradition of the oral law and the rabbinic method of analysis.Religion in Israel
Religion in Israel is a central feature of the country and plays a major role in shaping Israeli culture and lifestyle. Religion has played a central role in Israel's history. Israel is also the only country in the world where a majority of citizens are Jewish. According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, the population in 2011 was 75.4% Jewish, 20.6% Arab, and 4.1% minority groups. The religious affiliation of the Israeli population as of 2019 was 74.2% Jewish, 17.8% Muslim, 2.0% Christian, and 1.6% Druze, with the remaining 4.4% including faiths such as Samaritanism and Baha'iism, and irreligious people with no faith.Israel does not have a constitution. While the Basic Laws of Israel that serve in place of a constitution define the country as a "Jewish state", these Basic Laws, coupled with Knesset statutes, decisions of the Supreme Court of Israel, and various elements of the common law current in Israel, offer some protection for free practice of religion in the country. Pew Research Center has identified Israel as one of the countries that places "high" restrictions on religion, and there have been limits placed on non-Orthodox streams of Judaism. Legal accommodation of the non-Jewish communities follows the pattern and practice of the Ottoman and British administrations, with some important modifications. Israeli law officially recognizes five religions, all belonging to the Abrahamic family of religions: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Druzeism, and the Bahá'í Faith. Furthermore, the law formally recognizes ten separate sects of Christianity: the Roman, Armenian, Maronite, Greek, Syriac, and Chaldean Catholic Churches; the Eastern Orthodox Greek Orthodox Church; the Oriental Orthodox Syriac Orthodox Church; the Armenian Apostolic Church; and Anglicanism.
Relations among religious groups—between Jews and non-Jews, between Muslims and Christians, and among the different streams of Judaism, such as Orthodox, Reform and Conservative—are often strained.Religion in the Middle East
Three major religious groups (i.e. the two largest religions in the world: Christianity and Islam, plus Judaism) originated in the Middle East. Smaller minority religions, such as the Bahá'í Faith, Druze, Nusairism, Manichaeism, Sabianism, Bábism, Yazidism, Mandaeism, Gnosticism, Yarsanism, Samaritanism, Shabakism, Ishikism, Ali-Illahism, Alevism, Yazdânism and Zoroastrianism are also present in the Middle East.
The smaller, religiously unaffiliated population is forecast to grow 56%, from about 2 million to more than 3 million. Hindus, adherents of folk religions and Buddhists are expected to experience the greatest growth as a percentage of their modest 2010 counts, with each group more than doubling in size by 2050.Religious text
Religious texts, also known as scripture or scriptures (from the Latin scriptura, meaning "writing") are texts which religious traditions consider to be central to their practice or beliefs. Religious texts may be used to provide meaning and purpose, evoke a deeper connection with the divine, convey religious truths, promote religious experience, foster communal identity, and guide individual and communal religious practice. Religious texts often communicate the practices or values of a religious traditions and can be looked to as a set of guiding principles which dictate physical, mental, spiritual, or historical elements considered important to a specific religion. The terms 'sacred' text and 'religious' text are not necessarily interchangeable in that some religious texts are believed to be sacred because of their nature as divinely or supernaturally revealed or inspired, whereas some religious texts are simply narratives pertaining to the general themes, practices, or important figures of the specific religion, and not necessarily considered sacred by itself. A core function of a religious text making it sacred is its ceremonial and liturgical role, particularly in relation to sacred time, the liturgical year, the divine efficacy and subsequent holy service; in a more general sense, its performance.
It is not possible to create an exhaustive list of religious texts, because there is no single definition of which texts are recognized as religious.Resurrection
Resurrection or anastasis is the concept of coming back to life after death. In a number of ancient religions, a dying-and-rising god is a deity which dies and resurrects.
The resurrection of the dead is a standard eschatological belief in the Abrahamic religions. As a religious concept, it is used in two distinct respects: a belief in the resurrection of individual souls that is current and ongoing (Christian idealism, realized eschatology), or else a belief in a singular resurrection of the dead at the end of the world. Some believe the soul is the actual vehicle by which people are resurrected.The death and resurrection of Jesus, an example of resurrection, is the central focus of Christianity. Christian theological debate ensues with regard to what kind of resurrection is factual – either a spiritual resurrection with a spirit body into Heaven, or a material resurrection with a restored human body. While most Christians believe Jesus' resurrection from the dead and ascension to Heaven was in a material body, a very small minority believes it was spiritual.There are documented rare cases of the return to life of the clinically dead which are classified scientifically as examples of the Lazarus syndrome, a term originating from the biblical story of the resurrection of Lazarus.Rooster
A rooster, also known as a cockerel or cock, is a male gallinaceous bird, with cockerel being younger and rooster being an adult male chicken (Gallus gallus domesticus).
The term "rooster" originated in the United States as a puritan euphemism to avoid the sexual connotation of the original English "cock", and is widely used throughout North America. Ironically, cocks do not have a penis —sperm transfer occurs by cloacal contact between the male and female, in a maneuver known as the “cloacal kiss”."Roosting" is the action of perching aloft to sleep at day, which is done by both sexes. The rooster is polygamous, but cannot guard several nests of eggs at once. He guards the general area where his hens are nesting, and attacks other roosters that enter his territory. During the daytime, a rooster often sits on a high perch, usually 0.9 to 1.5 m (3 to 5 feet) off the ground, to serve as a lookout for his group (hence the term "rooster"). He sounds a distinctive alarm call if predators are nearby and will frequently crow to assert his territory.Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew: רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה), literally meaning the "head [of] the year", is the Jewish New Year. The biblical name for this holiday is Yom Teruah (יוֹם תְּרוּעָה), literally "day of shouting or blasting". It is the first of the Jewish High Holy Days (יָמִים נוֹרָאִים Yamim Nora'im. "Days of Awe") specified by Leviticus 23:23–32 that occur in the early autumn of the Northern Hemisphere.
Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that begins on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. It marks the beginning of the civil year, according to the teachings of Judaism, while the first month Nisan, the passover month, is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Hebrew Bible, and the inauguration of humanity's role in God's world. According to one secular opinion, the holiday owes its timing to the beginning of the economic year in Southwest Asia and Northeast Africa, marking the start of the agricultural cycle.Rosh Hashanah customs include sounding the shofar (a hollowed-out ram's horn), as prescribed in the Torah, following the prescription of the Hebrew Bible to "raise a noise" on Yom Teruah. Its rabbinical customs include attending synagogue services and reciting special liturgy about teshuva, as well as enjoying festive meals. Eating symbolic foods is now a tradition, such as apples dipped in honey, hoping to evoke a sweet new year.Samaritans
The Samaritans (; Samaritan Hebrew: ࠔࠠࠌࠝࠓࠩࠉࠌ, translit. Shamerim (שַמֶרִים), "Guardians/Keepers/Watchers (of the Torah)") are an ethnoreligious group of the Levant originating from the Israelites (or Hebrews) of the Ancient Near East.
Ancestrally, Samaritans claim descent from the tribe of Ephraim and tribe of Manasseh (two sons of Joseph) as well as from the Levites, who have links to ancient Samaria (now constituting the majority of the territory known as the West Bank) from the period of their entry into Canaan, while some Orthodox Jews suggest that it was from the beginning of the Babylonian captivity up to the Samaritan polity under the rule of Baba Rabba. Samaritans used to include descendants who ascribed to the Benjamin tribe, but this line became extinct in the 1960s. According to Samaritan tradition, the split between them and the Judean-led Southern Israelites began during the biblical time of the priest Eli when the Southern Israelites split off from the central Israelite tradition, as they perceive it.In the Talmud, a central post-exilic religious text of Rabbinic Judaism, the Samaritans are called Cutheans (Hebrew: כּוּתִים, Kutim), referring to the ancient city of Kutha, geographically located in what is today Iraq. In the biblical account, however, Kuthah was one of several cities from which people were brought to Samaria, and they worshiped Nergal. Modern genetics partially support both the claims of the Samaritans and the account in the Hebrew Bible (and Talmud), suggesting that the genealogy of the Samaritans lies in some combination of these two accounts. Genetically, modern Samaritan populations are found to have "much greater affinity" genetically to Jews than to neighbouring Palestinian Arabs. This suggests that the Samaritans remained a genetically isolated population.The Samaritans are adherents of Samaritanism, a religion closely related to Judaism. Samaritans believe that their worship, which is based on the Samaritan Pentateuch, is the true religion of the ancient Israelites from before the Babylonian captivity, preserved by those who remained in the Land of Israel, as opposed to Judaism, which they see as a related but altered and amended religion, brought back by those returning from the Babylonian Captivity. The Samaritans believe that Mount Gerizim was the original Holy Place of Israel from the time that Joshua conquered Canaan. The major issue between Jews and Samaritans has always been the location of the Chosen Place to worship God: The Temple Mount of Moriah in Jerusalem according to Judaism or Mount Gerizim according to Samaritanism.Once a large community, the Samaritan population appears to have shrunk significantly in the wake of the bloody suppression of the Samaritan Revolts (mainly in 529 CE and 555 CE) against the Byzantine Empire. Conversion to Christianity under the Byzantines also reduced their numbers. Conversions to Islam took place as well, and by the mid–Middle Ages, Benjamin of Tudela estimated only around 1,900 Samaritans remained in Palestine and Syria.The present-day population has been consistently divided between Qiryat Luza on Mount Gerizim and the city of Holon, just outside Tel Aviv. Most Samaritans in Holon and Qiryat Luza today speak Hebrew and Arabic. For liturgical purposes, Samaritan Hebrew, Samaritan Aramaic, and Arabic are used, all written with the Samaritan alphabet, a variant of the Paleo-Hebrew alphabet, which is distinct from the Hebrew alphabet. Hebrew and later Aramaic were languages in use by the Jewish and Samaritan inhabitants of Judea (the name by which Israel was known during part of the Second Temple era) before the Roman exile.Samaritans have a stand-alone religious status in Israel, and there are occasional conversions from Judaism to Samaritanism and vice versa due to marriages. While the Israeli Rabbinic authorities consider Samaritanism to be a branch of Judaism, the Chief Rabbinate of Israel requires Samaritans to officially go through a formal conversion to Judaism in order to be recognized as Halakhic Jews. One example is Israeli TV personality Sofi Tsedaka, who formally converted to Rabbinic Judaism at the age of 18. Samaritans with Israeli citizenship are obligated to undertake mandatory service in the Israel Defense Forces, while those with dual Israeli-Palestinian citizenship (living in Qiryat Luza) are generally exempted.