A place to see good, share good, and do good.

Browse or search Light of Culture Spotlights

Search

Name:

Category:

Differences are meant to be celebrated and shared and highlighted as the beauty that makes the world spin around. Each of us and our cultures are different and unique. Please join Blupela in celebrating the uniqueness of your life and heritage by sharing it as a spotlight on Light of Culture.

Create a Light of Culture Spotlight and show the creativity of your people to the world. It can be a photo or video of anything that represents who you are and who you see yourself to be within your communities and cultural background. Art, music, dance, food, clothing, worship, sports, anything that is unique to YOU!

[image for Culture Spotlight 2012-11-01T141902Z_1_CBRE8A013RS00_RTROPTP_4_TUNISIA-JEWS.jpg]
Middle East

Jews of Djerba

Bernard Asper
According to a local tradition, the Jewish settlement in Djerba also spelled Jerba dates from the reign of King Solomon and so was founded the present al-Ḥāra al-Kabīra (the "Big Quarter"). A family of Kohanim, priests fleeing Jerusalem in the year 70 C.E. is said to have transported one of the Temple gates from Jerusalem to Djerba. It is believed to be enclosed in the Bezalel synagogue, known as al-Gharība (the "extraordinary") of the Ḥāra al-Ṣaghīra (the "Small Quarter"), which is situated in the center of the island.
The Gharība was a much frequented place of pilgrimage. The Jewish population consisted mainly of Kohanim with a small sprinkling of others, although there were no members of the tribe of Levi, the tribe assisting the Kohanim, among the residents. According to tradition, the absence of Levites on the island is the result of a curse of death against them by Ezra because they refused to answer his request to send Levites to Israel at the time of Jewish return to Israel after the first exile. The history of the Jews of Djerba includes three serious persecutions: in the 12th century under the Almohads; in 1519 under the Spanish; and in 1943 under the Nazis. In 1239 a colony of Jews from Djerba settled in Sicily , where they obtained concessions to cultivate henna, indigo, and the royal palm groves. It was common for the male Jewish population of Djerba to look for livelihood abroad, but they kept returning to the island, where their families had remained. Exchange of goods with Malta and Italy was in the hands of the Jews, who grew the products and processed the commodities for export themselves.
In the 19th and 20th centuries the Yeshivot, Rabbinical academies, of Djerba produced many rabbis and writers and they provided rabbis for the communities of North Africa. In 1946 there were some 4,900 Jews in Djerba, settled in al-Ḥara al-Ṣaghīra, al-Ḥāra al-Kabīra, and Houmt-Souk, the principal town of the island. Their number dwindled to about 1,500 by the late 1960s, about 1,000 in 1976, 800 in 1984, and 670 in 1993, the majority immigrating to Israel. Those remaining dealt in jewelry and commerce, but the Jewish neighborhoods lost their purely Jewish character as Muslims moved in and the community was the victim of several anti-Jewish incidents. Across the rest of the Middle East, Jewish communities have been vanishing over the past half century, since the creation of Israel. Before then, there were more than 850,000 Jews living in the Arab world. Today, there are between 4,000 to 4,500, according to Justice for Jews from Arab Countries, a nonprofit advocacy group.
Some countries, such as Algeria and Libya, which once had sizable Jewish populations, have virtually no Jews within their borders. Egypt, which through the late 1940s had 75,000 Jews active in the country’s economic and social life, is down to a few dozen. Only Morocco, once home to 265,000 Jews, has a community of 2,500 left. Many are elderly or middle-aged.
As other Tunisian Jews moved away to Israel and France for fear of persecution, the Jews of Djerba stubbornly clung to the promise of their own future. A community that had dwindled to fewer than 700 Jews by the mid-1990s—from a high of about 5,000 in 1948—began to grow slowly but surely. While there were and still are departures, they are outweighed by the young families choosing to stay. Today, the island’s Jews number roughly 1,000, local leaders estimate. Mounting concerns about anti-Semitism in France, underscore what the Chief Rabbi of Tunisia has been saying for years: That no place is safer or more hospitable for Jews.
“The Jews of Djerba are concentrated in one area, so the government is able to protect us,” says Haim Bittan, the Chief Rabbi. A resident of Djerba, Rabbi Bittan also believes that the community’s deep spirituality offers it protection. “We have faith in God, that if we keep his laws and commandments, he will guard us from evil,” he says.
The central government in Tunis has long seen value in having a stable Jewish population. Even after the 2011 revolution ousted longtime President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali —the first casualty of the Arab Spring—the new leaders sought to assure Tunisian Jews that they were safe.
Djerba has enjoyed a lucrative tourist industry and Tunisia has been keen to preserve it by stressing its tolerance and moderation. Having a sizable Jewish community is key in that goal.
Djerban Jewish leaders are concerned about assimilation, so contacts with the 150,000 Muslims on the island are limited. Clustered in the Hara Kebira, the main Jewish quarter, they speak Arabic as well as Hebrew; a few speak French.
Relations between Jews and Muslims are complex—proper and respectful, though not especially close. Jewish men work alongside Arab merchants in the souk, for example, and enjoy amiable ties with Muslim customers.
With its low-lying houses and narrow, unpaved streets, the Hara Kebira is modest. While not walled in, it is insular and self-contained. Little boys run around in skullcaps; women wear long skirts, and scarves. And there are over a dozen working synagogues. The community is still Orthodox and insular but laptops, iPhones and TV sets are ubiquitous and more opportunities for women are being pushed for. Djerban Jews are proud of their heritage and want to preserve it even as the community has embraced aspects of modern culture. It is an ancient heritage of deep faith and it dwells on an island in space and in time.
For the most part this article is based on and quotes from http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/judaica/ejud_0002_0005_0_05275.html and http://www.wsj.com/articles/insular-jewish-community-of-djerba-tunisia-has-weathered-revolution-and-terrorism-but-can-it-survive-girls-education-1423869146

Votes4 DateJan 17, 2016

[image for Culture Spotlight Bedouin.jpg]
Middle East

Bedouin Life

Baila Pirchesky
From:
http://www.bedawi.com/Bedouin_Culture_EN.html
Origins of nomadic peoples are difficult to trace as they leave little evidence behind for archaeologists...
The term 'Bedu'in the Arabic language refers to one who lives out in the open, in the desert. The Arabic word 'Badawiyin'is a generic name for a desert-dweller and the English word ‘Bedouin’ is the derived from this.
In ancient times, most people settled near rivers but the Bedouin people preferred to live in the open desert. Bedouins mainly live in the Arabian and Syrian deserts, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt and the Sahara Desert of North Africa.
There are Bedouin communities in many countries, including Egypt, Syria, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Iraq in the Middle East and Morocco, Sudan, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya in North Africa. Altogether, the Bedouin population numbers about 4 million.
The Bedouins are seen as Arab culture’s purest representatives and the Bedouins continue to be hailed by other Arabs as “ideal” Arabs, especially because of their rich oral poetic tradition, their herding lifestyle and their traditional code of honour.
The Egyptians refer to the Bedouins as 'Arab', but Bedouins are distinct from other Arab’s because of their extensive kinship networks, which provide them with community support and the basic necessities for survival. Such networks have traditionally served to ensure safety of families and to protect their property.
The term 'A'raab' has been synonymous with the term 'nomad' since the beginning of Islam.
The Bedouins are recognized by their (nomadic) lifestyles, special language, social structures and culture. Only few Bedouins live as their forefathers did in camel- and goat hair tents, raising livestock, hunting and raiding. Their numbers are decreasing and nowadays there are approx. only 5% of Bedouins still live as pastoral nomads in all of the Middle East. Some Bedouins of Sinai are still half-nomads.
Bedouins have different facial features by which they can be distinguished from other Egyptians and also they generally dress differently.
The Bedouin men wear long 'djellabaya' and a 'smagg' (red white draped headcover) or 'aymemma' (white headcover) or a white small headdress, sometimes held in place by an 'agall' (a black cord).
The Bedouin women usually wear brightly coloured long dresses but when they go outside they dress in an 'abaya' (a thin, long black coat sometimes covered with shiny embroidery) and they will always cover their head and hair when they leave their house with a 'tarha' (a black, thin shawl). Traditionally a woman's face was hidden behind a highly decorated 'burqa'ah' but this is now only seen with the older generations. The younger generations cover their face simply with their 'tarha' (shawl).
The Bedouins have a rich culture and their own Arabic ‘Bedawi’ language, which has different dialects depending on the area where they live.
In former days they emphasised on the strong belief in its tribal superiority, in return to the tribal security – the support to survive in a hostile environment.
'The Bedouin' is aristocratic and they tend to perceive the Arabian nation as the noblest of all nations, purity of blood, way of life and above all noble ancestry. They often trace their lineage back to the times of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and beyond.
The first converts to Islam came from the Bedouin tribes and therefore (Sunni) Islam is embedded and deeply rooted in the Bedouin culture. Prayer is an integral part of Bedouin life. As there are no formal mosques in the desert, they pray were they are, facing the Ka’aba in Mecca and performing the ritual washing, preferably with water but if not available they ‘wash’ with sand instead.
'The Bedouin' is generally open-minded and interested in what is going on in his close and far surroundings since this kind of knowledge has always been a vital tool of survival.
At the same time, the Bedouins are quite suspicious and alert keeping a low profile about their personal background.
Modern Arab states have a strong tendency to regulate their Nomadic lifestyle and modern society has made the traditional Bedouin lifestyle less attractive, since it is demanding and often dangerous, so many Bedouins have settled in urban areas and continue to do so.
The Bedouin people are faced with challenges in their lifestyle, as their traditional Islamic, tribal culture has begun to mix with western practices.
Men are more likely to adjust and interact with the modern cultures, but women are bound by honour and tradition to stay within the family dwelling and therefore lack opportunity for advancement.
Today unemployment amongst Bedouin people is very high. Only few obtain a high school degree and even fewer graduate from college.
However, for most people the word Bedouin still conjures up a much richer and more mysterious and romantic image...
Source :
http://www.bedawi.com/Bedouin_Culture_EN.html

Votes3 DateJun 11, 2015

[image for Culture Spotlight Sufi1.jpg]
Middle East

The Sufi Way

One World Blue, LLC
What is Sufism?
Sufism is a way of life in which a deeper identity is discovered and lived. This deeper identity, beyond the already known personality, is in harmony with all that exists. This deeper identity, or essential self, has abilities of awareness, action, creativity and love that are far beyond the abilities of the superficial personality. Eventually it is understood that these abilities belong to a greater life and being which we individualize in our own unique way while never being separate from it.
This excerpt from:
https://sufism.org/sufism
Sufism is less a doctrine or a belief system than an experience and way of life. It is a tradition of enlightenment that carries the essential truth forward through time. Tradition, however, must be conceived in a vital and dynamic sense. Its expression must not remain limited to the religious and cultural forms of the past. The truth of Sufism requires reformulation and fresh expression in every age.
Reformulation does not mean that Sufism will compromise its challenge to a stubbornly materialistic society. It is and will remain a critic of “worldliness” — by which it is meant everything that causes us to be forgetful of the Divine reality. It is and must be a way out of the labyrinth of a secular, commercial culture. Most importantly, however, it is an invitation to meaningfulness and well-being.
Sufism, as we know it, developed within the cultural matrix of Islam. The Islamic revelation presented itself as the expression of the essential message brought to humanity by the prophets of all ages. The Qur’an recognizes the validity of 120,000 prophets or messengers who have come to awaken us from our selfish egoism and remind us of our spiritual nature. The Qur’an confirmed the validity of past revelations, while asserting that the original message was often distorted over the course of time.
Sufism’s claim to universality is founded on the broad recognition that there is only one God, the God of all people and all true religions. Sufism understands itself to be the wisdom realized by the great prophets — explicitly including Jesus, Moses, David, Solomon, and Abraham, among others, and implicitly including other unnamed enlightened beings of every culture.
In the Western world today diverse groups exist under the name of Sufism. On the one hand there are those who would say that no true Sufism can exist without appreciation and practice of the principles of Islam. On the other hand some groups exist that more or less ignore the Islamic roots of Sufism and take their teaching from further downstream, from “Sufis” who may or may not have had contact with specifically Islamic teachings.
We could say that there are those who accept Sufism as both form and essence, and there are others who are Sufi in essence but not in form. In my opinion, an appreciation and understanding of the Qur’an, the sayings of Muhammad, and historical Sufism is invaluable to the wayfarer on the Sufi path.
Historically, Sufism was not conceived as separate from the essence of Islam. Its teachers all traced their enlightenment through a chain of transmission going back to Muhammad. While they may have disagreed with certain interpretations of Islam, they never questioned the essential validity of the Qur’anic revelation; nor were they fundamentalists in the sense of rigidly interpreting that revelation or discrediting other faiths. Most often they represented the highest achievements within Islamic culture and were a force of tolerance and moderation.
Over fourteen centuries the broad Sufi tradition has contributed a body of literature second to none on earth. Somehow the guiding principles of the Qur’an and the heroic virtue of Muhammad and his companions provided an impetus that allowed a spirituality of love and consciousness to flourish. Those who follow the Sufi path today are the inheritors of an immense treasure of wisdom literature.
Beginning from its roots at the time of Muhammad, Sufism has organically grown like a tree with many branches. The cause of the branching has usually been the appearance of an enlightened teacher whose methods and contributions to the teaching have been enough to initiate a new line of growth. These branches generally do not see each other as rivals. A Sufi, in some cases, may be initiated into more than one branch in order to receive the grace (baraka) and knowledge of particular order.
There is little cultishness in the work of Sufis. Sufis of one order may, for instance, visit the gatherings of another order. Even the charisma of a particular teacher is always viewed from the perspective that this gift is owed entirely to God. The charisma is valuable in so far as it may bind the hearts of students to a human being who is the truth of the teaching, but many safeguards exist to remind everyone that personality worship and inordinate pride in one’s affiliation are forms of idolatry, the greatest “sin.”
If Sufism recognizes one central truth, it is the unity of being, that we are not separate from the Divine. The unity of being is a truth which our age is in an excellent position to appreciate — emotionally, because of the shrinking of our world through communications and transportation, and intellectually, because of developments in modern physics. We are One: one people, one ecology, one universe, one being. If there is a single truth, worthy of the name, it is that we are all integral to the Truth, not separate. The realization of this truth has its effects on our sense of who we are, on our relationships to others and to all aspects of life. Sufism is about realizing the current of love that runs through human life, the unity behind forms.
If Sufism has a central method, it is the development of presence and love. Only presence can awaken us from our enslavement to the world and our own psychological processes. And only love, cosmic love, can comprehend the Divine. Love is the highest activation of intelligence, for without love nothing great would be accomplished, whether spiritually, artistically, socially, or scientifically.
Sufism is the attribute of those who love. The lover is someone who is purified by love, free of himself and his own qualities, and fully attentive to the Beloved. This is to say that the Sufi is not held in bondage by any quality of his own because he sees everything he is and has as belonging to the Source. Shebli said: “The Sufi sees nothing except God in the two worlds.”
This book is about one aspect of Sufism — presence — how it can be developed and how it can be used to activate our essential human qualities. Abu Muhammad Muta’ish says: “The Sufi is he whose thought keeps pace with his foot — i.e., he is entirely present: his soul is where his body is, and his body is where his soul is, and his soul where his foot is, and his foot where his soul is. This is the sign of presence without absence. Others say on the contrary: ‘He is absent from himself but present with God.’ It is not so: he is present with himself and present with God.”
We live in a culture that has been described as materialistic, alienating, neurotically individualistic, narcissistic, and yet ridden with anxiety, shame, and guilt. From the Sufi point of view humanity today is suffering under the greatest tyranny, the tyranny of the ego. We “worship” innumerable false idols, but all of them are forms of the ego.
There are so many ways for the human ego to usurp even the purest spiritual values. The true Sufi is the one who makes no claims to virtue or truth but who lives a life of presence and selfless love. More important than what we believe is how we live. If certain beliefs lead to exclusiveness, self-righteousness, fanaticism, it is the vanity of the “believer” that is the problem. If the remedy increases the sickness, an even more basic remedy is called for.
The idea of “presence with love” may be the most basic remedy for the prevailing materialism, selfishness, and unconsciousness of our age. In our obsession with our false selves, in turning our backs on God, we have also lost our essential Self, our own divine spark. In forgetting God, we have forgotten ourselves. Remembering god is the beginning of remembering ourselves.
An excerpt from Living Presence: A Sufi Way to Mindfulness & the Essential Self
Available from Threshold Books
Published by Jeremy Tarcher, Inc.

Votes2 DateSep 6, 2017

[image for Culture Spotlight Dots_Against_Saudi.jpg]
Middle East

The Dot Against Assassination

Issa Nyaphaga
The Dots on my Face.
Look at my face! Yes, look at it again... It has 47 dots, that's the number of people executed last Saturday by the Saudi Arabia dynasty, including a Shia religious leader Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr. Who gave us the right to decide who must live or die?

Votes2 DateJan 17, 2016

[image for Culture Spotlight Neshama1.jpg]
Middle East

Neshama Carlebach - Shomer ISRAEL

Baila Pirchesky
I wanted to spotlight Neshama because her music speaks to the world. She is multicultural and I love her music, everything from Hebrew prayer songs to singing with an African American church choir. I actually met her years ago while I was in New York before I knew she was famous.
Neshama did concerts with her late father Shlomo Carlebach and their voices are like magic together.
See videos below:

Votes1 DateJun 30, 2016

[image for Culture Spotlight Gut1.jpg]
Middle East

Why Be Happy

Gutman Locks
When doing a mitzvah it is essential to be happy. If we do not experience joy when we are serving Hashem our service will, G-d forbid, become a burden.
All the more so, when we are trying to help other Jews to fulfill their spiritual purpose do we have to do it in such a way that brings them joy. Joy endears the mitzvahs to them and this will bring them to do another mitzvah.
This is not referring to the joy of telling them jokes or giving them cookies. When we show them how a mitzvah opens the Gate to Heaven, that fulfilling a mitzvah produces a time of favor and since they listened to Hashem and did what He said, now He is going to listen to what they say and then showing them how to open their hearts by speaking intimately to Hashem all this brings a spiritual awareness and satisfaction, and this satisfaction brings a unique joy.
Mitzvahs are tools that we have been given that allow us to accomplish something unique in creation. In this entire, huge Universe only a tiny human being can choose to serve G-d.
www.thereisone.com

Votes1 DateJun 30, 2016

[image for Culture Spotlight Tzitzis.jpg]
Middle East

Why Wear Fringes?

Gutman Locks
Why are Jewish men commanded to wear fringes on their garments?
www.thereisone.com

Votes1 DateJun 6, 2016

[image for Culture Spotlight Old City  picture.jpg]
Middle East

Israel Today

Samuel Posin
Recently, I had the opportunity to take a trip to Israel for a family wedding. While this was my fourth trip since 1979, I always find new and exciting perspectives.
Upon arrival at the airpoint, you begin to see the different types of backgrounds-Turkish tour groups,Missionary tours,Religious Jews, Arabs and many others.
I find it very refreshing to see everyone co-existing and acknowledging each other.
For those from the United States, our lack of learning other languages is not a major problem, as over half of the residents speak some to quite abit of English.
While in the Old City of Jerusalem,we encountered Armenians, Arabs and Israeli Jews. You feel very safe dealing with any gift shop owner, no matter their nationality. The shopkeepers are just trying to make a living and sometimes their means are not what visitors are used to. The only thing is trying to master the various cultures as not to offend or become involved in uncomfortable situations.
One interesting tidbit is that there is an upscale outdoor mall located 120 yards (375 meters) from one of the gates to the Old City; old butting up against new-sad and refreshing all at the same time for many tourists.
This is a country that is constantly building modern structures as the population increases. New roads and housing keep this small country thriving.
When attending the outdoor wedding and inside reception, there were friends of the families dressed casual to dressed up-everyone just seemed to fit in. What I enjoyed during this time and during large Sabbath meals with the 2 families at a synagogue was seeing the Sephardic(Spanish and Middle Eastern) Jewish customs of the one side mingling with the Ashkenazi(Eastern European)Jewish ways of the other family. Much respect and sharing took place.
It was a melting pot of heritages there: Israeli, Persian, Moroccan, American, British,Russian and others at these meals.
The cuisine is usually fresh fruit, yogurt and salads in the morning. Meat or chicken in the evenings and, of course, falafel at lunch or dinner.
While we hear of violence and safety issues in the area and region in the media, almost everyone has little to fear as they travel as long as you use common sense and avoid situations you would when traveling or living in any major city.
I sure I will be back to enjoy another aspect of this amazing country to see more of the sites and enjoy the diverse culture.

Votes1 DateApr 20, 2016

[image for Culture Spotlight Maranie24.jpg]
Middle East

Women in Gerome, Turkey

Maranie
women in Gerome, Turkey

Votes1 DateAug 28, 2015

More Culture Spotlights >>

Accounts
Manage Account Privacy Policy Terms of Use Join Sales Team
Contact
Feedback Report a Problem Contact Us About Us
One World Blue Network
Initiatives Light on the World Planet Sanctuary Light of Culture Stand & Unite List Initiatives List World Spotlights List Planet Spotlights List Culture Spotlights
Universality
Universal Human Rights Peace in the World Social Network for
Social Change
           

© 2014-2021 One World Blue, LLC ®