History of the Talitha Kumi Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Jala
Theodor Fliedner, the founder of the Diakoniewerk in Kaiserwerth, Germany, and four deaconesses established an orphanage in Jerusalem for Arab girls. This was the first educational program for the female youth of Palestine. By 1858 thirty-two Arab, Jewish and Armenian girls, boarded in an orphanage, were students in Fliedner’s school. In 1868 a new house opened with the present name. The enrollment later increased to more than 500 girls. In 1905 a deaconess school and teacher training program for Middle Eastern women began. The First World War ended this work. The British interned the deaconess sisters in Egypt, but in 1925 the deaconesses returned to Talitha Kumi; the school reopened the following year with room for thirty-five boarding school students/
In 1933 home economics and sewing school and a kindergarten training program were added. By 1939 seventeen deaconesses were working in Talitha Kumi, which included an elementary and secondary school. The teaching training and the deaconess school were discontinued, however. The outbreak of the Second World War again brought the work in Talitha Kumi to a halt; the deaconesses were once again interned by the British.
According to the armistice agreement in 1949 after the Jewish-Arab War, Talitha Kumi was part of Israel, which took control of the land and building in Jerusalem, but work continued in the Jordanian section of Palestine. The Jerusalem Society transferred its parish in Beit Jala to the Kaieserwerth deaconesses as the base for a new Talitha Kumi. Arab refugee children living in difficult conditions were accepted as students as a new elementary and secondary school, including a vocational building, were constructed.
Two kilometers from Beit Jala, a new Talitha Kumi opened officially in 1961. In 1975 the Jerusalem Society transferred its work to the Berlin Mission. Coeducation began in 1980 with the enrollment of boys. Building continued with the addition of the new biology classroom, chemistry laboratory, language lab and sports facilities. Program innovations continued despite the disruptions to the school’s operation during the civil unrest and political restrictions of the first intifada of 1988-1991.Changes continued. The Palestinian Autonomy Authority assumed responsibility for education in 1994. Vocational training began in 1995, and in 2000 Talitha Kumi received the official PNA License for Community Colleges. In 1997 the school became part of the UNESCO – Schools network.