Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Sabeel Young Adults have had a busy month

For those of you who have participated in our Young Adult Conference, you've already had a chance to encounter some of the awesome participants in our local Sabeel young adult programs. We want to keep all of you updated on the sorts of young adult programming that is happening here in Palestine and Israel.

The Sabeel young adults have had a busy month. As the month of Ramadan came to a close, members of the young adult program and the women's program were guests at the house of the Al Kurd family. Half of the Al Kurd house, located in Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem, has been taken over by a group of radical Israeli settlers. This takeover is part of a larger plan to push Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem out and to build a large settlement complex in the heart of East Jerusalem. (Participants of the 2008 young adult conference visited the Al Kurd house for a press conference). Members of Sabeel broke the fast with the Al Kurd family and then heard the family's story, including incidents of vandalism, harassment, and attempts to entrap the family by leaving purses and guns by their doors. There was also traditional Palestinian poetry and music. (For more on the Al Kurd family, see this article by EAPPI).

The young adults have also participated with the local Syrian Christian community in a cultural celebration held by the community and have begun going together on Sundays to the worship services of different churches in Jerusalem. They have prayed at the Syrian Orthodox church and the Latin Catholic church so far. This continuing ecumenical outreach is one of the most important aspects of the work of Sabeel's young adults.

Other recent activities have included a camping and cultural activity at the Nassar family farm, the Tent of Nations, which is threatened by the encroachment of illegal settlements. Participants shared special stories from a variety of cultural backgrounds. The young adults also gathered at the Sabeel office for a movie on interfaith understanding.

Most recently, 35 young people from Nazareth, Jerusalem, and Bethlehem traveled to Hebron to participate in the olive harvest. The olive harvest is central to Palestinian economy and culture, but tragically, many Palestinian farmers cannot get to their fields due to land confiscation, military bases, settler harassment, or the Wall.

The young adult group worked alongside members of a family whose olive trees are threatened by settlers in Hebron. Along with members of an Israeli peace group, they were able to pick olives together for several hours before settlers began threatening the group. After a confrontation with a journalist and a member of the Christian Peacemaker Teams, the Israeli military arrived on the scene and declared the area a closed military zone, thus preventing the family from continuing their harvest. You can read more about this incident as reported by CPT.

Next weekend, the Sabeel young adult group will continue its participation in the olive harvest by picking olives at the Garden of Gethsemane.

In all of these activities, Sabeel young adults attempt to break down walls of division in order to be living witnesses to the love and justice of Jesus Christ.

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