Mahaba Nursery Changes Leadership

Photo by Adrainne Gray/ELCJHL

 Mount of Olives, Jerusalem – The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land’s Mahaba Nursery and Preschool (MNAP) celebrated 20 years of dedication and service from its director, Mrs. Margaret “Margo” Younan while welcoming in Mrs. Maram Saeed Kawane as its new director.

The nursery has served local and expatriate families for nearly 40 years. Originally, developed by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission – The Middle East (FELM) in 1978. In 1997, the facility and the functioning of the nursery were taken over by the Evangelical Lutheran Schools (ELS).  Mahaba provides daycare and enrichment programs for children from just under two years old to four years of age. MNAP has an afterschool program for children up to 10 years old. See MNAP program page, here.

Mrs. Younan thanked her longtime nursery school staff of teachers and her family for her success at the nursery.

Mrs. Saeed Kawaneh thanked Mrs. Younan for her legacy and shared her vision of building on the framework of which Mrs. Younan has developed. Mrs. Saeed Kawaneh mentioned the creation of a Facebook page for the school, a plan to launch a fundraiser for renovations of the 20-year-old facility, and her desire to offer scholarships for Palestinian children.

When asked what her mission for the program will be under her direction, she said,

“I would like to see Al-Mahaba not only offer education, but I want children to grow emotionally healthy. I want to know their interests, their hobbies, and their habits.”

Photo Gallery  of Al-Mahaba Nursery

Evangelical Lutheran Schools in Palestine Commemorate Reformation 500

Reformation 500 Day at the Evangelical Lutheran Schools of the ELCJHL. Photo by Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Bethlehem, 30 October 2017 – The Evangelical Lutheran Schools (ELS) in Palestine are comprised of Muslim and Christian students. Within the percentage of Christian students attending the ELS institutions, less than 2 percent are Lutherans with the majority of Christian students coming from Middle Eastern Orthodox traditions.

So why celebrate Reformation 500 Day with so few Lutheran students?

2016 was marked by a historical event when the Bishop of the ELCJHL, The Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan; Pope Francis, head of the Catholic Church; and The Rev. Martin Junge, the General Secretary of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF), co-presided in a Joint-Common Prayer in Commemoration of the Reformation in Lund, Sweden.

Bishop Younan and Pope Francis co-signed a statement that pledged to continue ecumenical cooperation throughout both churches.

Therefore, a school with the richness of religious diversity, such as the ELS, provides an obvious ecumenical and interfaith environment to learn about the Reformation.

“We are not here to convert but to emphasize the importance of knowing what Lutheran Reformation means,” (ELS) Director of Education and Educational Programs Dr. Charlie Haddad told the group of 8th-graders gathered in the Dar al-Kalima Evangelical Lutheran School gymnasium.

“This event distinguishes our schools from the others.”

For the Muslim, the Orthodox Christian, and the Evangelical Christian, the Reformation not only represents a theological occasion, but it represents a social change, Dr. Haddad said to the students and teachers.

“The reformation continues as we reconcile with the Catholic church. All churches should talk about reconciliation within each society,” Bishop Younan said.

Bishop Younan said that to disagree is not a license for intolerance and that if we are truly a reforming church, then we are tolerant of other religions, even when we disagree. He urged the students to keep away from religious prejudice and intolerance.

Dr. Haddad offered a cash reward to the top essays from students themed, What should be reformed in my community today?



The Lutheran Model United Nations Hosts its 2nd National Conference

2017 LuthMUN in Bethlehem. Photo by Ben Gray / ELCJHL

It all began with a dream by students in 2013 to one day host a Lutheran Model United (LuthMUN)  Nations National Conference. Today, LuthMUN realized its dream for the second year in a row hosting 310 delegates from schools in Palestine, Nazareth, and Jerusalem; a 100-student increase from its first National Conference in 2016. The conference was held August 11-13, 2017 at the Bethlehem Russian Center.

The MUN program simulates the real United Nations, by gathering youth in high schools of different conferences (or nations) to debate topics as delegates of an assigned country.

Keynote Speaker, Fajr Sarhan a graduate of The Lutheran School of Hope, advises delegates to be confident and make friends. Photo by Ben Gray / ELCJHL

This year the topic is fitting for a people plagued by laws that appear to be racially biased, and in a world where racism is becoming acceptable in the public sphere. The LuthMUN 2017 theme is “United Against Racism: Reaching Global Consensus.”

The LuthMun 2017 Secretary General, Rani, a senior at Talitha Kumi, addressed the delegates about the importance of this year’s theme stating, “Racism is a destruction of peace. It leads to self-shaming, depression, and suicide.”

Rani quote Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who had a dream that racism would end in the United States, but noted how this has not become a reality. Rani continued,  “Unfortunately, racism is also a reality in Palestine, today.”

Four years ago LuthMUN was created by the ELCJHL Director of Education’s Office with only Lutheran schools participating in the first two. This year and last year, LuthMUN hosted area participating schools representing eight committee topics:

  1. Disarmament
  2. Environment
  3. Political
  4. Human Rights
  5. Economic and Social
  6. Security
  7. Arab League
  8. Special Events

LuthMun executive team members state that racism and discrimination are ills that taint all areas of society.

According to the LuthMUN website, The conference is resolution based so that delegates can create solutions to the issues in order to fully understand the importance of the topics.

LuthMUN story from 2016.


Hope Ramallah Names New Principal and Deputy Principal

The School of Hope’s new Deputy Principal Mays Husary. Photo: Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Jerusalem – Two weeks before the opening of the new school of Hope in Ramallah, the Evangelical Lutheran Schools (ELS) celebrates new leadership, welcoming a new principal and deputy principal to The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, and giving homage to the dedication of its retiring principal, Mr. Michael Abu Ghazaleh.

Mr. Abu Ghazaleh retired after serving as principal of Hope for 29 years and a teacher at ELS for six years. Under his tenure as principal, Mr. Abu Ghazaleh graduated 29 cohorts of students, maintained a high standard of Tawijhi exam results, was instrumental in establishing the school’s Dabke Dance Troup, and encouraged the growth of the school’s cultural exchange program.

The Director of the ELS, Dr. Charlie Haddad lauded Mr. Abu Ghazaleh for his service and playfully said, “During the 29 years of his administration, he served under three directors of education ending with me and five pastors, ending with Rev. Imad Haddad This alone shows that he is a true survivor.”

Retired Principal Michael Abu Ghazaleh. Photo: Ben Gray/ELCJHL

His successor is Mr. Naseef Muallem a former journalist, a former teacher at Hope Ramallah, and the head of The Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy (PCPD).

Also coming on board is Ms. Mays Husary who will be serving as the Deputy Principal of Hope Ramallah. Deputy Principal Husary brings hands on experience in the Kindergarten class, experience as a teacher’s assistant and a degree in Business Administration.

Church leaders from the ELCJHL and visitors of other faith traditions were in attendance to bless Principal Muallem and Deputy Principal Husary on their new beginnings and to recognize Mr. Abu Ghazeleh for his commitment to the school of Hope throughout the years.  Mr. Abu Ghazeleh was presented with a plaque by the ELCJHL and the School of Hope for his service.

School of Hope’s new Principal Naseef Muallem. Photo: Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Approximately 60 people gathered in the courtyard of Hope Ramallah Lutheran Church honoring the past and current work of Mr. Abu Ghazaleh and welcoming in the visions and goals of Principal Muallem.

Hope Ramallah’s Dabke dancers graced the new leaders with an energetic performance.

When asked what Principal Muallem and Deputy Principal Husary had planned for the school under their leadership, Principal Muallem outlined a methodology that is based on the educational philosophy of Paulo Freire.  Freire suggested a method of education that makes both the teacher and the pupils co-learners and other pupils co-teachers in the education of the class. The method includes more dialogue, or as Deputy Principal Husary said, “Less of me and more of you.”

“We are looking to build on what has already been done here while introducing these new techniques that reflect the philosophy of the Evangelical Schools,” said Principal Muallem.

The ELCJHL welcomes Principal Muallem and Deputy Principal Husary and asks that the entire church here and abroad pray for the continued success and new beginnings of The School of Hope Ramallah.


Spring Educational Day 2017

Mini Talks (English) participant Nardina Nassar. ELCA Ret. Bishop Cindy Halmarson judges the Mini Talks. Photo by Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Beit Sahour – The Evangelical Lutheran Schools (ELS) 2017 Spring Educational Day was blessed with a beautiful, bright spring day on the 7th of April on Beit Sahour’ School’s athletic court.

Principal Georgette Rabadi, and ELS Director of Education Dr. Charlie Haddad welcomed volunteers, pastors, administrators from participating schools, representatives of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education, Bethlehem Director of Education, and The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land Bishop Munib Younan to the celebration of academic competition.

Spring Educational Day is an opportunity for students to showcase their language, humanities, and scientific abilities in friendly competitions.

  • Little Champions: Q&A for Grade 4
  • Arabic Forum: Mini-talks and Q&A for Grades 5-6-7
  • English Language Bowl: Mini-talks and Spelling Bee for Grades 8-9-10
  • Information Marathon: Q&A for Grade 11, Scientific & Humanities Streams
  • German Lesewettbewerb: all German teaching schools reading competition G6 – G11

Students prepared themselves throughout the winter for the Educational Day.

“The event is a process. Every child is given a chance. They are all winners because they have improved their skills by preparing for this event,” said Dr. Haddad.

Special congratulations to the winner of the 2017 Spring Educational Day logo competition, Yazan Al-Yateem. 

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”Results SED 2017″]

[pdf-embedder url=”” title=”Gewinner-SED 2017″]

Beit Sahour School Dabke Program Wins Competition

Beit Sahour Dabke Dancers April 2017 during Education Day. Photo by Ben Gray/ELCJHL

Submitted by Beit Sahour School Administration

Beit Sahour – After winning first place in the Artistic Competition among schools in the Bethlehem District organized by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education, The Evangelical Lutheran School (ELS) in Beit Sahour also won the first place in the second round of this competition on Wednesday 22 March in Doha, Palestine.  Later, the Ministry of Education announced Beit Sahour School as second place winners in the district.

The competition was a combined performance of the school’s Dabke group, the choir, and a group of students playing traditional and modern instruments.  ELS music instructor, Wassim Qassis conducted 45 students in a musical production. 

Two fourth-grade students dramatized the Palestine situation in a humorous way.

On April 13th the winning schools will perform the same show for the  Minister of Education in Ramallah.

Dabke is a traditional folk dance and music that remains an important part of Palestinian heritage.

Beit Sahour School and ELS encourage students to join the Dabke group in order to keep the tradition alive. They perform in many public events in Bethlehem like the Olive Picking Festival and the Christmas Celebrations around Palestine.

Additionally, they perform for visiting guests as an entertaining way to introduce them to the local tradition. The current program is the first cooperation between the choir and the Dabke group.

This summer some students from the Artistic Competition will perform abroad in Switzerland.