• Kafr Kamma

  • Friday, March 1, 2024 at 8:10 AM
    Last Update : Monday, March 4, 2024 at 9:45 AM

Israel’s Muslim Circassian Minority Preserving Their Language and Customs

(AWP) - Residents of two Circassian towns in Israel have managed for decades to preserve their existence, language, culture and traditions.

The history of the towns of Kfar Kama and Rehaniya dates back over 150 years ago following the arrival of Circassian tribes to Upper Galilee, east of Lake Tiberias.

In order to ensure their survival, a group of Circassians served in the Israeli army under compulsory conscription, carrying the mandatory Israeli identity card, in exchange for their security.

However, this did not spare them from displacement or expulsion in many cases.

With an estimated population of 4500 people, the remaining Circassians in the two small towns still speak in their mother tongue. They have established a heritage centre and a restaurant that serves traditional Circassian dishes passed down by their ancestors from the Caucasus Mountains.

Aibek Napso, Director of the Circassian Heritage Centre, mentions that it includes a cinema and a museum that educate visitors about the ethnic group’s mythology, history and culture.

He states that the number of Circassians in the towns of Kfar Kama and Rehaniya was 1200 when they first immigrated from Russia to Palestine, which was then under Ottoman rule.

Kfar Kama preserves its restored traditional houses, as well as a mosque that reflects the Circassian architectural style.

Napso explained that everyone in Kfar Kama speaks the Circassian language, which is the everyday language of the town but that they also learn Hebrew, Arabic and English.

“I would certainly like to welcome you and I would be honoured to speak to you in my Circassian language,” Napso said, proceeding to talk in his mother tongue.