Ras Abu Ammar, My Village

Living in the Middle East, everyone asks you where are you from? It is the simplest way to get to know a great deal about someone in the shortest span of time, though I still think it’s a terrible question to ask. My answer was always: Ras Abu Ammar, Jerusalem. I looked for Ras Abu Ammar in many references. The oldest I found was in Victor Guérin‘s “Description of the Geography, History and Archeology of Palestine.” Located in the nineteenth chapter of the second book of the seven book series. The Author sets of on a journey to discover Palestine. He leaves Jerusalem at 4:20 in the afternoon on May 11th, on May 12th the Frenchman leaves Khirbet Bouktiari (خربة بكتياري) at 5:45 AM

By 1:30 PM that day, the traveler saw a small village sitting atop a mountain. The village was Er-Ras (الراس), which he translates to “the summit”. The year was 1868 and the population of the village would have been around 80 Men and around 8 houses. Monsieur Guérin did not visit it like he visited the larger village of Waladjeh. Had he done that he would have probably met one of my ancestors.

I am bothered by how little information about this village is available. Less even, is the information moving from one generation to the next. Especially those in the diaspora. Therefore, I intend to do my part.

I tried to collect all the data about this village here in one place, that should help future generations stay in touch with it. Or should I say her?

I tried collecting all the data that I could gather, and I appreciate all the help I got from Wikipedia editors in finding references.

My Grandfather talked about it in a manner that was nostalgic and magical. Up until his death, he would always compare land and soil to it. If the soil of an area was like Ras Abu Ammar’s, it meant that it was the best for growing produce.

For a farmer, it made sense to him to prefer more alkaline soil, he didn’t care about growing magnolias or flowers. He wanted to grow olives, grapes and figs, therefore, whenever he saw alkaline red soil, he would always mention Ras Abu Ammar. His loss of land was great, not only because he lost his house and the houses of his family. He lost his livelihood, his kinship and his connections that had him grounded. He lost home!

He would talk about his house’s ceiling that had olive oil in its roof’s mortar mix. That was supposed to show how well-off they were. Olive oil is currency in the old country, pouring it in the roof mortar was an act of squander. Only a well-off family could afford it. In fact, only a family of landowners could afford to have a second story and a ceiling cast from mortar.

I was hooked and I wanted to know everything there was to know.