Monday, April 10, 2017

A Loving Solidarity

Excerpts from an Easter Message from Jean Zaru, Ramallah Friends Meeting 

From the land of Palestine, I extend loving greetings to you as sisters and brothers, both near and far. For Palestinian Quakers, Resurrection is a time of joy, hope and sharing. In Palestinian households, we bake small cakes for this occasion which are rich in symbolism. 

Even though the cakes themselves taste sweet, their shape represents the last bitter moments before Jesus’ torturous death.  We transform ring-shaped cakes filed with dates into crowns of thorns. Another type of cake is filled with walnuts and shaped like the vinegar soaked sponge, which instead of water, was offered to Jesus on the Cross. These cakes are baked by Christians and Muslims alike for their respective special occasions. 

With similar import, eggs are naturally dyed a deep red color to represent the blood of Christ. Colored eggs are the joy of children and adults alike, who exclaim "Christ is Risen!" when cracking them open. . .

We learn through scripture that Jesus was a mystic. He had vivid and frequent experiences with the Spirit. He was a remarkable healer, wisdom teacher, and social prophet. An outspoken critic of the domination system, Jesus was also an organizer, an initiator of inclusive movements that shattered the social boundaries of his time. 

While interpreting Jesus in purely political terms does not allow us into a full understanding, we may also reduce his message if we exclude the political dimensions of his life, death and resurrection. 

Our struggle against the inter-related threats of oppression, violence, warfare and the destruction of the environment can be and should be understood as one struggle – a struggle for life." 

About Ramallah Friends Meeting 

There has been an active and vibrant Palestinian Quaker community in Ramallah since the late 1800’s. In 1910, this community built the Ramallah Friends Meetinghouse and later added another building that was used for community outreach.
The Ramallah Friends Meeting has always played a vital role in the community. In 1948, the buildings and grounds became the home to many Palestinian refugees. Throughout the years, the members of the Ramallah Friends Meeting organized numerous community programs such as the Children’s Play Center, the First Day School, and women’s activities.
By the early 1990’s, the Meetinghouse and Annex which housed meeting rooms and bathroom facilities, fell into disrepair as a result of damage inflicted by time and impact of conflict. So serious was the deterioration of the meetinghouse that by the middle 1990’s it was impossible to use the building at all.
A further blow to the Friends and the wider Palestinian community was the high level of emigration brought on by the economic situation and the hardships arising from the continuing Israeli military occupation. The Meetinghouse, which had served as a place of worship for the Friends in Ramallah, could no longer be used as such and the Annex could no longer be used for community outreach.

In 2002, a committee consisting of members of the Religious Society of Friends in the U.S. and the Clerk of the Ramallah Meeting began to raise funds for the renovations of the buildings and grounds of the Meetinghouse. By November, 2004 the renovations were complete, and on March 6, 2005, exactly 95 years to the day after the dedication, the Meetinghouse and Annex were rededicated as a Quaker and community resource.