A new Cornerstone issue

By the end of January, Sabeel will release a new Cornerstone issue. The issue will focus on the topic of Israel as an apartheid state. The Cornerstone will examine how Israel wants all of the land without the Palestinian people, or with the least amount of Palestinians. For this reason, the Israeli government sees apartheid as simply a transitional step.   

Kumi Now

In January, the Kumi Now committee decided to change the regular Kumi Now sessions. Instead of occurring weekly, the sessions will happen two times each month. Each month, a young Palestinian leader working towards change will speak in one of the sessions. In the other session, the local community and international community will work towards building a road map for creating justice in Palestine. 

Archbishop Desmond Tutu

After the passing of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu on 26 December, Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel International express their deep condolences and gratitude. For many years, Archbishop Tutu served as the International Patron of Sabeel. One of the first global Christian leaders to take a stand on Palestine, he was very active in supporting our work. He attended and spoke at many conferences organized by Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel International. He also supported our advocacy work. In whatever Sabeel asked Archbishop Tutu to do, he was always very supporting, welcoming, and kind. 

The health insurance plan

On Wednesday 19 January, the committee coordinating the new health insurance plan met for the first time this year with the Palestinian insurance company to discuss the status of the plan. The company provided an update on the first quarter’s numbers, including the number of people and organizations that have registered and the kinds of medical care people are seeking.

­Memorial service for the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu­

Dear friends of Sabeel, 

On Saturday January 29th , 2022, 8pm Jerusalem time, Sabeel and Friends of Sabeel will hold a memorial service (online) to celebrate the life and dedicated service of the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu who was the International patron of Sabeel for many years.

Please register using the following link: https://us06web.zoom.us/j/86284388538

The peace of Christ,

Rev. Naim Ateek

Health Insurance Program

Update on the Groundbreaking Health Insurance Program: In September 2021, Sabeel and the community launched a new, groundbreaking health insurance program. Previously, Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza did not have access to health insurance on an individual basis. Sabeel has been bringing people together to solve this problem affecting the community. Churches, non-profit organizations, laypeople, and businesses have been working together, including a Palestinian Christian-owned company that is financially supporting the health insurance plan.

In September and October, the insurance program was open for enrollment to Christian faith-based organizations, and in November, it was opened to all of the community. At the end of December, enrollment [will be closed, and it will reopen in March. Enrollment will reopen for one month every three months in order to minimize the risk to the project. For the first two months, enrollment included a combination of individuals and employees at organizations for a total of about 4,000 people.

The health insurance program provides a collective pool of money that everyone can use as much as they need. Approximately USD $30,000 each month are being used out of the insurance money pool to cover the medical expenses for people with chronic diseases like diabetes and high blood pressure. Previously, many community members were not able to take medication regularly because it was very expensive. Now, they are able to take their medication on a regular basis. Everyone who wished to enroll, including those who are currently in the hospital or are sick, was accepted in the program. Based on Sabeel’s research, this is already the biggest community health insurance initiative that exists. We hope that by the end of 2022 there will be around 10,000 members enrolled.

A group from Sabeel Nazareth visits Jerusalem

On Friday 17 and Saturday 18 December, a group of 30 members from Sabeel Nazareth visited Jerusalem and Bethlehem. They planned their journey to follow the advent story and to also connect to the contemporary situation in occupied East Jerusalem and Bethlehem. To show their solidarity, the group traveled there to do their Christmas gift shopping. Both places – as well as Nazareth – have suffered a lot because they rely significantly on income from tourism and pilgrimages. The group bought gifts from fair trade organizations and women’s cooperatives and had lunch locally. They attended the annual Sabeel Christmas dinner on Friday night.

Christmas Dinner

On Friday 17th o December,  Sabeel held its annual Christmas dinner, its first since the outbreak of the pandemic. Sabeel has been holding a Christmas dinner each year, but it was not able to gather last year due to the pandemic. This year, the dinner was at the Christmas Hotel in Jerusalem. 32 clergy members and 172 members of the community gathered for this year’s dinner.

There are three different Christian calendars in Palestine, and the various Palestinian Christian communities celebrate Christmas at different times. Every year, Sabeel begins the Christmas celebrations to accommodate each of the Christian calendars so that all of the parishes, clergy, and communities can celebrate together.

This year’s festivities included many speakers, performances, and special foods. Sandra Khoury, the first female head of the Sabeel Board, welcomed the attendees and provided words of encouragement. She spoke about how we are still able to celebrate despite the challenges of the pandemic and the political situation. Bishop Atallah Hanna read the Nativity story and chanted from the Gospel. The Syrian Orthodox Priest of Jerusalem Father Paul Khanu read the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic. The Armenian choir presented three Christmas hymns in Armenian. Throughout the dinner, two young Palestinian artists Lina Sleibi and Jerius Bulatta performed Christmas music. Sister Ghada Nimeh, from the Rosary sisters,  gave a Christmas message about the Catholic Church’s Synod process. Through the  synod process, the Church, clergy and community, is trying to figure out together how the Church should function and what should be its responsibilities. This is a very important opportunity for laypeople, especially women and young people, to influence and change how the Church looks today. The evening ended with St. Barbara’s Feast, which is traditionally held on Friday December 17. The feast includes the special dessert of St. Barbara, which is made from dried fruits and wheat. The feast is very important because of its interfaith emphasis. It has become a custom of Christians to provide the feast for neighbors regardless of their religion. St. Barbara lived in a small Palestinian village close to Ramallah called Aboud. It is one of a few feasts that all of the community in Palestine celebrates regardless of their religion.

The story of Christmas from a Palestinian Liberation Theology perspective

On Wednesday 15 December, Sabeel presented for its partner Bilda Swedish Christian Study Centre (SCSC) a bible study exploring the story of Christmas from a Palestinian Liberation Theology perspective. About 60 people from Sweden attended the bible study. The group was a diverse group including Christians, Jews, Muslims, and those who do not belong to any faith tradition.