Taybeh Visit – Lenten Prog.

Taybeh, known biblically as Ephraim or Ofra, is an ancient Palestinian village located in the occupied West Bank. On Tuesday, March 29, 2011, a joint Clergy and Community Sabeel program visited Taybeh for Lenten reflections and a day- long tour given by Melkite Father Jack Nobel. The day started with a visit to Taybeh’s municipality where the twenty-nine participants met with Dr. Daoud Khoury, the Mayor of Taybeh. Dr. Khoury outlined the different issues facing the village in recent years, including the emigration of young residents because of the difficulties caused by Israeli military closures and restriction of movement. Sabeel participants were inspired by the projects carried out to encourage residents to stay in Taybeh and to bring more visitors to learn about this modest village with such a rich Christian history.
The second stop was the Taybeh Cooperation for Rural Development, a day center for Taybeh senior citizens. Mrs. Abeer Khoury, the head of the acting committee of the cooperation, gave a brief description with a short PowerPoint presentation. Forty local senior women, who usually meet every Tuesday at the center for social gatherings and activities, welcomed the Sabeel participants and later enjoyed a social lunch together. The third visit was to the Beit Ephraim nursing home, where the Lenten litany was recited hymns sung together with the sisters and residents of the home. In the afternoon, Father Jack led a Biblical reflection about Taybeh, or Ephraim, followed by a delicious Lenten meal cooked with the expertise and warmth of Taybeh’s women.
After the meal, participants visited the local ceramic workshop, where the fourteen employees make Taybeh’s famous “Peace Lamps,” ceramic lamps in the shape of a dove. Father Jack then guided a walking tour through the old village of Taybeh, explaining the history through its architectural designs and vintage houses that has witnessed numerous eras and generations. The day ended at the ruins of St. George’s Church, which date back to the Byzantine period of the sixth century. There, Father Jack described the flourishing of Christianity in Taybeh’s past and present. Overall, it was a moving experience for all involved to see such an old Christian town and to build relationships with its Christian community.