Where Aramaic isn’t dead

This is Mukhtar Sami Barsoum, and he represents the Syrian Christian orthodox community in the Old City.

He is also a tailor.

His name is Aramaic. It means “son of The Fast.”

“Bar — like Bar Mitzvah” he tells me. “Same thing. Son of.”

If you ask him about identity he will tell you this:

“My father was Ottoman Turkish, so I am Turkish. I was born under the British mandate and my birth certificate has Queen Elizabeth’s fathers name on it. In 1948 when I was 13, I became a citizen of Jordan. I still have my passport. In 1967, I became an Israeli resident. They won’t give me citizenship but I am a resident. And I am a Palestinian.”

Mukhtar Barsoum is fluent in Hebrew and Arabic and English and yes he speaks Aramaic – the language that the Jews also spoke in the region once in the markets and at home. Hebrew was a holy language for prayer, not for buying fish. A language that I thought was “dead” but isn’t.
He offered to recite the Lords Prayer for me in it so obviously:

Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Posted by Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Sarah climbs roofs and drinks scotch and takes pictures and writes and teaches her kids to ask questions. She is is spending a year in the old city (3 months in each quarter) where she is writing a book about her experiences and the people she meets. Sarah is a work in progress, and you can follow her on Twitter and via her Facebook Page.

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