Zababdeh - الزبابدة

Located in the northern West Bank, Zababdeh is a majority Christian town - the only one of its kind in the West Bank - with about 4,000 residents. The mayor, by law, must be Christian. Manuel Musallem, a Fatah supporter and native of Birzeit, was the village priest of Zababdeh from 1974 until 1995, when he was posted as a parish priest in Gaza. During his tenure high quality educational facilities were developed that drew in young Muslim students from Jenin, 15 kilometers away.

Many people believe that Mary passed through Zababdeh with her cousin Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist. The town is rich in Christian ruins, some of which date back to the Byzantine era and have yet to be completely unearthed. There are also churches from the nineteenth and twentieth century that belong to the Catholic, Anglican, Melkite and Greek Orthodox communities. In addition to its religious significance, Zababdeh houses the Arab American University of Jenin, a private institution established in 2000 in collaboration with California State University.

Our host in Zababdeh is Abuna Firas Khoury, a priest and activist who reopened the Catholic Melkite Church in 2002 after a twenty-year closure. Khoury, a self-proclaimed trouble maker, is inspired by the model of South Africa wherein the church played a major part in mobilizing the masses in their fight for freedom. In his quest to break the Palestinians’ isolation and expose the injustices that they endure on a daily basis, Khoury has established a network of friends and supporters across the world who regularly travel to the West Bank to help its Arab population. He openly accuses the church leadership of a passivity that serves Israel’s goals and prolongs the occupation. On a social level, Khoury is involved in projects that promote the empowerment of women and the youth.

Overnight

Type of Accommodation

Homestay

 

 

Family

Doris Diab

Khalida Issad

Itas Diab

Bedrooms

3

2

3

Beds

2 per room

2 per room

2 per room

Bathrooms

3

1

2

Showers

2

1

1

Internet

yes

yes

yes

Notes

When staying with local families, it is recommended that you bring a small gift to share with your hosts. Examples of such gifts are anything your country or region is known for (jams, soaps, etc.), or tea, coffee, chocolate or other candy. You should not bring alcohol or foods containing pork, as most host families are Muslim and both products are forbidden in Islam.

Due to its religiously diverse population, you will be able to find alcohol in Zababdeh.

When staying with local families you will also have the opportunity to wash your clothes if necessary: to do so, you should ask your hosts and they will be able to assist you. You should be sure to have your own towel and toiletries.

In villages it is important that you are dressed modestly at all times: this means wearing loose, opaque clothing that covers the shoulders and knees. Women should carry a lightweight scarf with which they can cover themselves when entering mosques or other holy sites.

While well-stocked pharmacies are easily accessible in much of the West Bank, you might not be able to find some desired medicines in small villages. For this reason, we recommend that you bring with you high SPF sunscreen, aspirin or other pain relievers, antihistamine, disinfectant, insect repellent, antibiotics and intestinal antiseptics. You should also have a hat, water bottle, backpack and comfortable shoes with you at all times to ensure your health and comfort while walking.

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