My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin:  XIV. Meals and Other Celebrations

My Friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: XIV. Meals and Other Celebrations


The birth of a child is a great event in most cultures, and I had the opportunity to experience this in Jewish Israeli, Dutch and Bedouin cultures. Among the Bedouins when a boy is born, there is a festive meal for the extended family, served on huge platters. The traditional dish is mansaf, made of lamb cooked in a sauce of fermented dried yogurt and served with rice or groats (Mansaf, 2011). Afterwards there is Bedouin coffee. It is uncommon to bring presents. I attended the party for the birth of Bashar’s youngest son, for which he himself had slaughtered the sheep. Among Israeli Jews, when a boy is born there usually is a large ceremonial party at which the boy is circumcised and presents are given. Among Dutch Jews, the party is usually more private. Nowadays parties are sometimes held for Jewish baby girls as well. In the dominant culture in the Netherlands, it is customary to visit the parents and give presents when a child is born, but there usually is no big party.

In the Netherlands, it would be out of the ordinary to skip subsequent birthdays. Birthdays tend to be celebrated from the first until the last. Even without a party, presents and birthday cards are always there. “Round” birthdays (20, 30, 40 etc.) receive more attention and often go with bigger parties. In the Netherlands, the individual is central. In contrast, for the Bedouins the birth of a person is significant for society, but the individual is of less importance and so is time. For them, there is no incentive to celebrate birthdays. Nonetheless, times do change, also for the Bedouins. Nowadays birthday celebrations become more common. I was present at the third birthday of Bashar’s eldest, with family and other children, cakes, small fireworks and many presents.


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Daniel WeishutDaniel J.N. Weishut, born in the Netherlands but living in Jerusalem, is a professional with a diverse background. He holds an MA in Clinical Psychology and an MBA in Integrative Business Administration, both from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a PsyD in Clinical and Organizational Psychology from the Professional School of Psychology (Sacramento). He has about thirty years of experience in consultation and therapy with a wide variety of clients and issues, more than twenty years of practice in group facilitation, and over fifteen years of know-how in governance and management in various organizations.Daniel Weishut offers his services as a "Partner on the Way", while taking a world-view that people are diverse but equal. He works with a variety of clients, but his special interest is in work with those who have found themselves persecuted or otherwise in conflict with their social environment, because of their culture, identity or belief system. For example: migrants, expats, refugees, Holocaust survivors, soldiers, pacifists, and individuals from religious, cultural or sexual minorities. Daniel Weishut is a social activist and in this capacity he volunteers as Chairperson of the Israeli Association of Group Psychotherapy, as Member of the Membership Appeals Committee of Amnesty International and as forensic expert for the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel. He also is involved in raising awareness about the situation of Bedouins around Jerusalem; awareness which led among others to the writing of his dissertation "My friend is a Palestinian Bedouin: Challenges and opportunities in intercultural friendship".

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