Friday, February 12, 2010

First time to the Druze city of Isfiya, عسفيا ,עספיא

Discovering new cities, new villages, new places and its peoples is really the best part of this new job of mine. One regret though: I have no time to really dig and explore the new place because "Time waits for no Giraffe" and my job is far from being done. Sophie Hagirafa is still an unknown Giraffe eco teether and it happens that I am asked " to come back to the store when she starts selling". Well that did not happen in Isfiya also knows as Ussefiya and I am very grateful to Jinan!

On Sunday I called baby stores located in the "north-before-Haifa" part of Israel and "HaTinok HaKatan" was on my list. I knew it was in a Druze city but not much else. I remembered seeing the movie "The Syrian Bride" (excellent and very poignant),  I had images of the Druze Pita Bread that I sometimes buy on weekends from Druze families who come to our area. But that is about it. So I was really happy when Jinan told me to come visit her store and show her Sophie The Giraffe.
Isfiya is actually a city touching the other Druze city of Daliyat al-Karmel. The Druze community is known for their openness, hospitality, and warmth  but also for their food. Many people drive over on weekends just to eat.The drive is actually quite pleasant across the forest and Isfiya is located on the top of the Carmel Mountain. I was told that the panorama could be very striking.The area may be one of the fews around here where a mobile phone does not work. This is unusual enough I thought I'd mention it. No antenna among the trees!  ^__^

There are over 100,000 Druze that live in Israel. They have Israeli citizenship and even serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (the Israeli army). They speak both Arabic and Hebrew.They follow a very secretive and small religion. Not many documents and information on this practice are released to people outside the religion.The religion was established around 1017 in Egypt, when the sixth Fatimid caliph, al-hakim bi-Amrih Allah.The Druzes are strict monotheists. Druze are also unitarian, believing all mankind to be divine. They believe in reincarnation and the spiritual superiority of women. One must be born into Druze in order to be initiated. One cannot convert into the religion or leave it. Druze accept the Koran, the Judeo-Christian bible, and the writings of Hakim as meaningful.

In that site "every culture", I learned that " The Druze are of mixed race. They are largely of Arab descent but they also have Iranian, Kurdish, and European heritage. The Druze have a flag, which strengthens their sense of unity. The flag includes five colors, which represent five prophets.
Druze Flag

It combines a green triangle on the hoist side and four horizontal stripes of red, yellow, blue, and white. Red symbolizes the heart and love of humanity, green the farmer and life, white the air and purity, yellow the sun and wheat, and blue the sky and faith." I had never seen  nor heard of that flag before... but now I know! ( Please look at this every culture site , it is full of great information about the Druze, should you be curious ^__^ )

So Sophie The Giraffe has now found a new store to reach more Happy Babies. The store is called "HaNasikh HaKatan" which means the Little Prince and is at the junction between Daliyat el-Carmel and Isfiya just next to the Police Station.
I will conclude now by saying again that I am very grateful to Sophie The Giraffe and Vulli for the learning adventure I am going through!

Thank you Ron!

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