Veteran program leader Paul Parker returns with an Abraham’s Children program
In 2005 I took a summer Arabic language course from Birzeit University with dozens of other internationals during which Michel Awad and George S. Rishmawi arranged several weekend explorations of Palestinian culture and traditions. I was immediately impressed with their professionalism and internationalism while remaining deeply rooted in the Palestinian reality. The Siraj Center is Palestine. As a university professor who has now led ten public, non-profit tours to introduce North Americans to Palestine, I highly recommend the Siraj Center to university students for summer courses, to families for alternative vacations, to Muslim and Christian pilgrims, and to those who are looking for an adventure. Biking, hiking, dancing, learning Arabic, guided tours, home-stays, religious pilgrimages, and fact-finding delegations—the Siraj Center provides safe, expert and ethical tourist arrangements.
- Paul Parker
Long-time Siraj tour leader Rev. Jerry Wright reflects on his most recent program with us.
For many years now, my wife and I have engaged Siraj Center as our tour hosts in Palestine and Israel. In addition to the other services/experiences they provide (hiking, biking, educational opportunities and more), Siraj staff are experts in arranging for alternative tours/responsible travel to the Holy Land. We just returned from another pilgrimage, having led a group of eighteen persons.
May 2017 - An international group of eight hikers completed a walk along part of Abraham’s Path in Palestine. They began their journey in Nablus, exploring the old city before staying overnight with local families in the village of Awarta.
In late April, the British "Wild Frontiers" group cooperated with Siraj for walking tour that visited Nablus, Awarta, Duma, Taybeh, Jericho and Mar Saba, and ended in Jerusalem.
This spring, Siraj Center was delighted to host eleven delightful voyagers from France, starting on 21st of April in Bethlehem district with a hiking day in Battir, a tour at the Old City of Bethlehem and a visit to Nativity Church.
Beautiful landscape, culture, meeting locals and visiting ancient historical sites of Palestine were just a few of the highlights of this spring's Southern Trail Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil experience. Starting from Solomon’s Pool in Artas, built by King Herod and once used to collect spring and rain water from the surrounding valleys to provide water for Jerusalem, the program participants learned much about village life and culture in Palestine.
This early April, Siraj Center Hosted a successful bike tour of nearly two dozen cyclists from the Britain and America.
Starting their Jenin to Jerusalem cycling tour on April 5th, they cycled from Jenin towards Sabestia, a small Palestinian town set in a fertile valley where figs, olives, grapes and the other fruits and vegetables grow in abundance. Local tradition holds that it was in Sebastiya that John the Baptist was beheaded, and an abundance of archaeological ruins from different eras can be found. The group then cycled towards the village of Zababdeh, enjoying the relaxed countryside atmosphere of this town situated in the fertile farmland plain of the northern West Bank, then cycled on to Nablus, where they had a tour of the Old City before turning in for the evening.
In late March, the Siraj Center hosted an 18 dedicated hikers from United Kingdom who selected our "Hike Palestine" Program for their Siraj experience, and walked from Nablus to Jerusalem. Beginning with a tour in the old city of Nablus, they visited Jacob's Well and Balata refugee camp, where they met with and learned from local Palestinians. Visits to the Palestinian villages of Awarta, Duma and al- Auja included staying with local families sharing their food and experiencing their daily life.
Westtown School, a Quaker Middle School from Pennsylvania, came to the Holy Land this March to build personal and institutional relationships between Westtown and the Ramallah Friends School, as well as to learn about the political and religious history of the area and its importance to Christians, Jews and Muslims
Over 100 students from across the various schools at Harvard applied to go on this trip to see Palestine over Spring Break in March, which was described by some of its participants as “life-changing” and "the most intense learning experience" they had while students at this prestigious university. For most American and international students, this was a unique chance to see Palestine from a different perspective, and come face to face with both the reality of the occupation and Palestinian struggles, but also with the beauty of Palestine, and the resilience and hospitality of the its people.
During the first half of 2016, the Siraj Center in cooperation with the Masar Ibrahim al Khalil enabled 245 people to walk through rural Palestine, exploring its natural beauty, history, culture, cuisine and being welcomed by authentic Palestinian hospitality along the way.
The one-day and two-day weekly walks began in February until end of June 2016. The walkers had the choice of hiking different segments of the Masar Ibrahim in Palestine. The Jerusalem Wilderness and the Reshayda Desert were among the first walks of the season. Another segment included Nebi Musa to Mar Saba, where walkers had the chance to visit ancient religious sites. In the northern section, walkers discovered rural Palestine from Awarta, Duma, Aqraba, Nablus and Jenin.
The age categories of the masar walkers ranged from 18 to 74 years old. In addition to the local Palestinian walkers, there were international hikers who came from different countries such as China, Georgia, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Jordan, Norway, Sweden, Spain, Australia, the United States, Canada, the U.K. , France, etc.
22nd – 25th May 2016
The twelve member delegation from Canada’s Wilfrid Laurier University traveled for the first time to Palestine for a diverse educational experience. Students and staff were able to visit major cities, as well as rural villages in the West Bank, being welcomed by people from each local community, learning about the day-to-day lives and challenges faced.
9th - April 2016
Twenty-one British cyclists took part in Bike Palestine where they cycled approximately 200 km across the West Bank, starting from the northern city of Jenin cycling southwards through the ancient city of Sebastia, the old city of Nablus before reaching Taybeh. It wasn’t only hard cycling through dramatic landscapes, but also relaxing moments enjoying the easy rides in Bethlehem and Jericho, and even the unique experience of floating on the Dead Sea – the lowest point on Earth.
The Siraj Center arranged for a delegation of 18 high-school seniors and 6 staff from Westtown School, a Quaker boarding and day school near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, to travel through Palestine and Israel from 5th – 18th March 2016.
An international group of four hikers completed a four day hike along the northern part of the Masar Al Khalil starting 21 till the 24\3\2016. They began their journey in Nablus, exploring the old city, the olive oil soap factory, the Greek Orthodox Church of Jacob’s Well and Tel Balata. They hiked southwards to the village of Awarta, where they enjoyed a traditional Palestinian meal, and stayed overnight with local families.
For a long time I have watched, usually on Arabic/English Television, the effects that the Israeli occupation is having on the people of Palestine.
When the opportunity arose to visit various parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, I knew that I would have to go as I had not seen travel arrangements like these before.
British cyclists take part in Siraj Cycle Ride across the West Bank to raise money for Palestinian medical projects
An intrepid group of British cyclists recently completed a five-day, 200km cycling challenge with Siraj Centre in support of UK charity Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP).
The cyclists’ route took them from Nablus to Qalqilya, Ramallah, Bethlehem, through the divided city of Hebron and onto historic East Jerusalem. On the way, they passed the Separation Wall, and visited MAP’s mobile clinic serving the threatened Bedouin communities of the Jordan Valley.
The participants from the A la Calle Group were given a Jerusalem Political Tour, and in Bethlehem a tour of Aida Refugee Camp and a visit to the Museum of Natural History in Bethlehem to witness how the occupation and building of illegal settlements affects the daily lives and environment of Palestine and its inhabitants.