Monday, April 23, 2007
Yemen Jews mark Passover away from home
The 55 Jews driven from their village in the north, Sa'ada, and sheltering from Shi'ite Muslim rebels in the Yemen capital, Sa'ana, courtesy of the president, still managed to celebrate Passover this year. An insightful interview by Kawkab al-Thaibani in the Yemen Observer.
"Their Rabbi, Yousif Marhabi, said that the main thing in their rituals is to eat their own homemade food. They are forbidden to make it outside, he said. He explained the reason for the unleavened bread saying that the Jews fled Egypt before their bread had time to rise. Marhabi was sitting on the floor, smoking Mada’ah (a Yemeni form of hookah). “Smoking or chewing gat (a plant with narcotic properties) is not forbidden,” he said. Marhabi cannot hear well, so when talking to him, everyone has to make his or her voice loud. “Allah hail the president, we, Jewish, feel secured now,” he said. He was complaining of the Houthi members in Sa’ada that expelled him.
“We are always in fear, so we could not put our sons and daughters in schools.” His daughter, Sa’adah, was also complaining of the bad attitude from some people in Sa’ada. “Some men or women said to us to stay way from them because we will dirty them*,” she said. Sa’ada, like the others, wore a very typical Yemeni dress, but she is a widow. “My son’s uncles took him away from me to Israel, and I have not seen him since,” she said.
"She heard from other people that he is a married man with a son. “I have no desire to marry again. If your lifetime begins in misery, then it will continue for the rest of your life,” she said. Her son, Manahim Izra, does not contact her. “I doubt that he knows that he has a mother,” she said grievously. Yahia said that they have special utensils for the celebration. “They should be new, nobody touches them, but here we could not get them here because we left our home, and we could not afford to buy new ones,” she said.
"The special utensils are the same Yemeni traditional ones used throughout the country. Nemah Yahia, an elderly lady, said that they went to a mill in Raida, half an hour from their new home, to grind the cereal into flour. “We are not allowed to take it already ground,” she said. Marhabi, his daughter, and Yahia continuously thank the president for his help to them, yet they don’t have enough money to cover their expenses. "
Read article in full
*the Shi'ite prejudice of najas