In Israel, Yemenite Wedding Customs Have Made a Comeback

Nov. 19 2018

In recent years, with the resurgence of interest among Israeli Mizraḥim in traditional folk customs and religious observance more generally, Yemenite Jews have revived the pre-wedding henna ceremony, in which the bride dons a traditional costume complete with an elaborate headdress and special jewelry, and her hands and those of her guests are smeared with henna. Malin Fezehai describes the ceremony. (Pictures and video can be found at the link below.)

By the design of the dress, the bride takes the shape of a triangle. “The shape is very central in the material culture of Yemen,” said Carmella Abdar, a professor of folk culture at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Triangles symbolize the woman’s fertility and are believed to have supernatural powers, but she said that in modern Israel, the ceremony has more to do with “ethnic identity than magical powers.”

In Yemen, there were many similarities between Muslim and Jewish brides. The practice of dyeing hands and feet has been used for centuries in India, Pakistan, Africa, and the Middle East; Jews adopted the tradition from their Muslim neighbors. Abdar said that Jewish jewelers in Yemen would make jewelry for both Muslims and Jews. They also added some distinctly Jewish touches, like the necklace-like labeh, worn below the chin, and stacked bracelets.

Toward the end of the [henna ceremony], the immediate family gathers on stage, and guests watch as the henna paste is mixed, speeches are made, and songs are sung to praise the bride. The bride applies the henna paste to the palms of her guests. Once dried and removed, the henna paste will leave an orange tint, showing that they have been to a celebration.

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Read more at New York Times

More about: Israeli society, Jewish marriage, Religion & Holidays, Yemenite Jewry

Maintaining Security Cooperation with the PA Shouldn’t Require Ignoring Its Support for Terror

In accordance with legislation passed last year, the Israeli government has begun to deduct from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority (PA) an amount proportional to what the PA pays to terrorists and their families. Last year, a similar law went into effect in the U.S., suspending all payments to the PA so long as it continues its “pay-for-slay” policy. The PA president, Mahmoud Abbas, has retaliated by refusing to accept any tax revenue collected by Israel—raising concerns that the PA will become insolvent and collapse—while insisting that payments to terrorists and their families are sacrosanct. To Yossi Kuperwasser, Abbas’s behavior amounts to mere extortion—which has already worked on the Europeans to the tune of 35 million euros. He urges Israel and the U.S. not to submit:

Abbas [believes] that influential Israeli and European circles, including the security establishment, view strengthening the Palestinian Authority, and certainly preventing its collapse, as being in Israel and Europe’s best interests. They will therefore give in to the pressure he exerts through the creation of an artificial economic crisis. . . .

[T]he PA leadership’s insistence on continuing wage payments to terrorists and their families, even at the price of an artificial economic crisis, shows once again that . . . the Oslo Accords did not reflect a substantive change in Palestinian national aspirations or in the methods employed to achieve them. . . . If paying wages to terrorists (including the many terrorists whose attacks took place after the Oslo Accords were in force) is the raison d’être for the PA’s establishment, as Abbas seems to be saying, . . . one cannot help asking whether Israel has to insist on maintaining the PA’s existence at any price.

True, Israel cooperates on security issues with the PA, but that serves the interests of both sides. . . . The short-term benefits Israel gains from this security cooperation, [however], are of less value than the benefits enjoyed by the Palestinians, and worth even less when measured against the long-term strategic damage resulting from Israel’s resigning itself to the constant incitement, the promotion of terror, and the political struggle against Israel carried out by the PA. Israel should not do anything to hasten the PA’s breakdown, because it has no desire to rule over the Palestinians and run their day to day lives, but it also should not feel more obligated to the PA’s continued existence than do the Palestinians themselves, thereby leaving itself open to continuous extortion.

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Read more at Israel Institute for Strategic Studies

More about: Israeli Security, Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror