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Ramallah Friends Meeting (Quakers)
Annual Newsletter 2018

Deepening Connections with Brummana Meeting

The Fountain of Peace: Quaker Service in Lebanon

Welcome Home, Mai!

Humanitarian Support to Gaza

Occupied with Nonviolence: 10th Anniversary

Fixing the Portico Roof

World Quaker Day

Solidarity with Norwegian Friends

Nakba: 70 Years Ago

Make a Gift
Deepening Connections with Brummana Meeting
Members of Brummana Friends Meeting with Saleem Zaru (center left).
Connections between Brummana Monthly Meeting in Lebanon and Ramallah Monthly Meeting continue to deepen, with our friendship overcoming the obstacles of conflict and travel restrictions.

When Saleem traveled to Brummana last November, more than 25 years had passed since representatives from the two meetings had met. After attending First Day Worship, a long overdue and energizing time of fellowship was had by all in attendance.

Conversations have continued over the course of this past year. Most notably, plans were made to collaborate on the publication of Arabic language resources about Quakerism.
In early October of this year, just in time for World Quaker Day, the first of three pamphlets, An Interpretation of Quakerism , was published. The pamphlets will be hand-delivered to Brummana Meeting during Saleem's upcoming trip to Lebanon.

We continue to seek creative ways to strengthen the community between our two meetings, hoping a way will soon open for a Middle East Yearly Meeting gathering in a third country accessible to members of both Meetings.

In the meantime, you are invited to learn more about Brummana Monthly Meeting, the Brummana School and the history of Quakerism in the Middle East .

The Fountain of Peace:
Quaker Service in Lebanon
A fascinating history of the Brummana School & Quaker service may be found in " Among Friends " (No. 133, Summer 2015, pgs. 4-5), a publication of the European and Middle East Section of the Friends World Committee for Consultation .

Recounting the achievements of Theofilus Waldmeir, who founded the school, the article includes the following notable quotations :

"Waldmeir first came to Mount Lebanon in 1867, during the time of the Ottoman rule… Between 1869 and 1874, Elijah G. Saleeby opened the first school in Brummana, a remote village overlooking Beirut (three hours from the city on horseback), called the “Darlington Station” because it was supported by Quakers in Darlington, England. In 1873, Theofilus opened a girls’ school in Brummana…In 1876, the Boys’ Training Home (now Brummana High School) was opened. The land name was changed from “Berket al-Ghanem” to “Ayn al-Salam” (The Fountain of Peace). Within five years, the school had grown to 300 students, bringing literacy and new ideas to the isolated mountain area."

"Education at Brummana High School was based on the principles of the Religious Society of Friends, which stress non-violence, equality, the spirit of service and encouragement of the pursuit of higher standards through enlightened methods. Furthermore, the fundamental Quaker belief that there is something of God in every individual, made it mandatory for the school to prepare its students intellectually and technically, while imparting their spirit of service so that upon graduation they were equipped to be good servants of their communities. The school did not undertake mission activity, and the students’ beliefs in their own religions were never challenged or deprecated."
Brummana High School, Brummana, Lebanon.

"El Asfuriyeh [an affiliated project of the school] was founded by Mr. Waldmeir in 1898, a hospital for the insane to provide care for the mentally afflicted of the Lebanon, Syria, and the Middle East. The hospital gradually expanded and by 1949, 14,000 patients had been treated. In addition to clinical work, in 1922 it was affiliated with the American University of Beirut (AUB) and became the Psychiatric Division of the University hospital. In 1948, it opened a school of Psychiatry, the first of its kind in the Middle East, and which was subsequently used by the World Health Organization for the training of specialized personnel."

"The school still strives to embody “Quaker values” and I wondered what this means for the students and their parents in this present time. The answer came from some parents’ representatives who said: 'Here you cannot tell who is rich and who is poor. You cannot tell who is Christian and who is Muslim. We are all equal, and there is one God'."
Welcome Home, Mai!
The Meeting is delighted that life-long member, Mai Zaru, returned to Ramallah in August after completing her undergratduate degree in special education at Brigham Young University in the United States. An active member of the Meeting, Mai is also teaching at the Ramallah Friends School.

Mai's first book of poetry, The Resonance of Our Footsteps , is featured on the resource page of the Meeting's website .
Humanitarian Support to Gaza
In Gaza, just 50 miles away from the Meeting House, our sisters and brothers are marching for peace and freedom.

They are also experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. The United Nations predicts that Gaza, the most densely populated place on earth, will become unlivable by the year 2020.

Considering these conditions, a deep concern was laid upon our hearts earlier this year and in response, we invited friends worldwide to join us in letting the Palestinian people of Gaza know that they are not forgotten.

Your donations were generous and combined with those from Ramallah Friends Meeting totaled $2,950. In turn, critical pharmaceuticals were provided to a healthcare system pushed to the brink and mental health intervention was offered to children and their parents.

Thanks to cooperation from United Palestinian Appeal , your support was received in Gaza almost immediately.
Expressive therapy techniques to alleviate trauma were taught by UPA staff to mothers and their children.
Critical pharmaceuticals were delivered immediately to medical clinics out of supplies.  
Occupied with Nonviolence
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the publication of Occupied with Nonviolence: A Palestinian Woman Speaks by Jean Zaru.

Part theological reflection and part memoir, Jean's book gives voice to her unique experience as a Palestinian woman, teacher and religious leader who holds a deep faith commitment to nonviolence.

Still relevant and still speaking to us in new ways, Occupied with Nonviolence continues to be used in theological schools across the globe and as essential pre-trip reading for travelers to the region.

Ordering information may be found on the Meeting's website , www.rfmq.org .
Fixing the Portico Roof:
Caring for the Historic Meeting House 
When friends enter the historic Ramallah Meeting House they first step through a beautiful arched portico. The portico was added several years after the Meeting House was built in the year 1910. It offers shade, protection from the elements and an inviting welcome to the hundreds of friends who walk through it each week whether that be for unprogrammed meeting for worship or one of our numerous educational events.

To ensure that its ministry of presence in the center of Ramallah endures for years and decades to come, the Meeting partners with a trusted local contractor to conduct regular building inspections. This spring we noticed that large cracks in the portico roof (see photo on left) were allowing rain water to seep in and cause damage. Local stone craftsman repaired the cracks and applied a water-proof sealant to the roof.

Now, even the bell on top of the portico roof has a safe and proper home!
The Meeting House with newly repaired portico roof.
After the Rise of Meeting for Worship, 7 October 2018.
World Quaker Day 2018
On the occasion of World Quaker Day (Oct 7th), Ramallah Friends recited original poetry, spoke to the Meeting's long-standing priority for a just peace and recounted the ways in which we served the community during the 1948 war.

We also made available on our website the first of several Arabic language resources on Quakerism, beginning with the pamphlet, "An Interpretation of Quakerism".

A variety of interesting reports from other Meetings may be found at www.worldquakerday.org .
Solidarity with Norwegian Friends
An important time of solidarity was had tin Norway this past May. At the invitation of Quaker Service Norway and representing the Ramallah Meeting, Jean traveled to Oslo for a full week of events.

Her ti me began with participation in a May Day service, which was followed by fellowship and a Palestine solidarity event at Vålerenga Church.

While discussions focused on the web of global oppression, signs of hope were abundant and the involvement of the wider community energizing.

A pubic dialogue on nonviolence between Jean Zaru and Oslo Bishop Kari Veiteberg was a highlight of the week. After the dialogue concluded, a silent vigil for Gaza was held outside. The outpouring of solidarity was deeply moving.

We are immensely grateful for this meaningful time of exchange and the friendships made even stronger through our shared experience!

It is notable that this year marks 200 years of Quakers in Norway. The history of the Society of Friends in Norway is a fascinating one and a summary in English may be found here .

Among many other projects world-wide, Quaker Service Norway supports early childhood development centers in Gaza and offers much needed mental health care to children who have experienced trauma.
Nakba: A People Displaced for 70 Years
Seventy years ago, the Friends Meeting House in Ramallah sheltered over 100 refugees and served as a temporary school until United Nations services were established for Palestine refugees (UNWRA). The photograph below is the only one the Meeting has from that period of its history.
The Ramallah Meeting House served as a temporary school immediately after the 1948 war.
"In the war of 1948, I was only eight years old. Yet I can remember the fear very clearly. I remember hiding in the basement in our home. I remember the refugees coming to Ramallah from the coastal plain of Palestine. I remember how my father and my older brother, hearing of the plight of refugees, took a truck with water and bread and drove west to deliver supplies and to pick up women and children who were running away from the dangers of war but could not go on walking. Fifty of these people shared our home for a period of six weeks. Another one hundred camped under our pine trees. Our Friends Meeting House in Ramallah sheltered many more families until they found a way of settling somewhere else. I have lived most of my life next to a refugee camp. That war ended, but the plight of those refugees continues. A fourth generation of refugees has been born into that camp."

An excerpt from Occupied with Nonviolence , pg. 4 by Jean Zaru.
Make a Gift, Deepen Connections

The vibrant ministry of Ramallah Friends Meeting would not be possible without the support of friends around the world.

Your support is essential in sustaining our historic witness and ongoing outreach in these challenging times .

Will you help us continue to do so by making a donation today?

Simply write a check or donate online.
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