Memorial Day, Haredi-style

The site of Al-Nabi Samwil rises between Jerusalem and Ramallah and offers splendid views to each. According to tradition, the spot marks the burial place of the prophet Samuel (as my students know, the "king-maker" and "king-breaker" from the biblical book). Archaeology hardly bears this tradition out, however. Ruins date to the Iron II period and beyond. Today, a single stone structure dominates the hilltop. Inside, Muslim worshipper pray at ground level; Jewish worshippers pray in the basement below. I prefer the roof for the view.

We found ourselves at Al-Nabi Samwil yesterday (by accident!) at the time of an annual holiday. The activity closed the road and the adjacent Arab village. Ultra-Orthodox gathered by the hundreds to remember the memory of the prophet.