Friday, January 20, 2012

Pekiin - Centre of the village

There is a natural spring in the centre of the village, with family houses surrounding it.  All the streets branch out from here though the town, in the direction of the fields. In Ottoman times the fields were owned collectively and collective taxes paid.  In the 19th century the surrounding lands was parceled out to individuals. The spring is a carstic spring from the Pekiin range.  Years ago the spring used to flow down to the wadi, where it powered 4 flour mills.

In the 17th century there was a silk industry here, run by the Jews.  The only Jewish person left in Pekiin is Margalit Zinati, now in her 80’s.  She looks after the local synagogue, which contains stones from Talmudic times and a geniza above the doorway. She also has a small museum in her home.  The synagogue is an Ottoman period building, built after the large earthquake of 1837.  She has a show, together with Uriel Rozenbaum.

There used to be a much larger Jewish population in Pekiin, but during the pre-state Zionist period they had to leave several times for their own safety.  Each time fewer returned.  This happened in 1921, 1929 and 1938, after which there were only 50 Jewish families left.  In 1948 the Hagannah told them to leave again, and only the Zinati family returned.

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