/ First Hand Experience
2019 TOLEF March Journey

Tree of Life Journey: March 12 – 23, 2019

Mothers of a New Creation


In March 2019, 23 travelers journeyed with Tree of Life Educational Fund to Israel/Palestine. This journey had a special focus on the role of women, past and present, in their struggle to give birth to a New Creation.

The Land of Canaan, sometimes called the “Holy Land” or the “Land of Promise”, is a place replete with the sacred stories of women who, by their love, courage, resilience and determination, endeavor to make their communities a place where all God’s children can learn to live together in peace.

We visited with members of the Parents Circle, an organization with both Israeli and Palestinian members who have lost loved ones to the violence and who choose dialogue and reconciliation rather than revenge. The voice of Rachel weeping for her children can be heard in the lamentations of Palestinian and Israeli mothers who have lost their children in the violence.

We visited many Bedouin communities and organizations in the Negev to learn about actions Bedouin communities are taking to resist ethnic cleansing, and provide education, health care and medical services to underserved community members. And we visited a coexistence school in Be’er Sheva, opened in Hagar’s name, where Palestinian and Israeli children learn together. The dignity of Hagar was seen in Bedouin women who in weaving beautiful carpets also weave a new and better future for their children.

In Nabi Saleh, we talked with Ahed Tamimi, her parents and her aunt to hear about their ongoing struggle for justice and their non-violent resistance to overwhelming violence directed at them. And we learned how Palestinian children are mistreated when imprisoned under Israeli military law by listening to Ahed share her own experiences. We were reminded of a young woman from Magdala who refused to be intimidated by those in power.

In Nablus we were reminded of a Samaritan woman who offered a cool drink to Jesus, a Jew, and in that hospitality reminded us of how crossing boundaries and comfort zones and transcending stereotypes can help to build a new and better future for us all.

We were honored to enjoy performances of traditional Palestinian Dabke Dances and musicians using ancient instruments such as the oud, which evoked the spirit of Miriam who with her tambourine and dance helped to keep alive the hopes and dreams of her people.

These are just a few of the many important, emotional, educational and inspiring groups and individuals we visited and whose stories we heard.

This journey was led by Ghoufran Allababidi, President of Tree of Life Educational Fund, and Ann Perry, Executive Director.  Serving as chaplains were Colleen Keyes, former Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at Zaytuna College and Muslim leader in the interfaith community and Laura Fitzpatrick Nager, Senior Associate Minister of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, CT.



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