The Druze live throughout the mountains of Lebanon, but also in two large villages on Mt. Carmel and in the Golan. As a result, there is a strong Druze presence in Haifa and the north – more so than in the rest of the country. We are lucky to have that unique cultural detail associated with our city because the Druze religion is mysterious to outsiders and it has been interesting to learn a little bit about the culture.. The Druze are known for their hospitality and their loyalty to their country. Typically, Arab-Israelis are not required to serve in the military, but the Israeli Druze insist on serving in the IDF. Male elders are recognizable by impressive mustaches, but most of the younger Druze are assimilated in their dress.
Our gateway to the culture has been food, of course – the gateway to most cultures. We’ve mentioned saj a couple of times before, but finally have a chance to illustrate it in detail here. Every saj stand that we’ve seen, whether in a Druze restaurant, a roadside stand, or in the mall on Friday mornings is run by an elderly Druze woman. They are recognizable by their white head scarves and black dress.
When the saj done, it is folded in half, filled either savory, with labneh, olive oil & za’atar or tabouleh, or sweet with chocolate spread, and then folded again to contain the filling.