Women of the ELCJHL are like women everywhere, busy with trying to develop themselves and find balance in faith, life, work and family. But they have complications most people would never even think of. Living under occupation with 550-plus road blocks of some kind (checkpoints, gates, earthmounds) and the wall rapidly closing you off from your school, doctor, family across the street. Having to walk football fields in distance with your shopping or sick mother. Imagine:
- Not being able to see family because there is now a wall between the 3 mile route, and you don’t have the right ID.
- Getting you and your kids up every day at 5 am for the 2-hour journey that is only 5 kilometers away but you now have to go around the wall and through a checkpoint.
- Rents that are skyrocketing because of the Palestinian housing shortage in Jerusalem but salaries that have either disappeared entirely or been reduced due to the international boycott and a crippled economy.
- Living 4-5-6 people to a room because of that housing shortage but having to stay in Jerusalem to keep your family’s health care and ability to live and work in Jerusalem.
- Being a “forbidden family,” and being illegal in your own house because you have a West Bank ID and you married a Jerusalemite and the Israeli government won’t give you the reunification permit you need to live legally together.
- Having to walk football fields in distance through the checkpoint in the hot sun or rain after you have had your chemo treatment;
Nevertheless, there is obviously no choice if you want to stay here, and the women of the ELCJHL are the backbone of the family and the church, standing fast in faith, hope and spirit, and seeking support from other women when they need it.
These disconnected years after the 2nd intifada, it has been a challenge to continue an ELCJHL-wide women’s ministry. Mostly, each congregation’s women’s group organized and worked on its own because of movement restrictions, checkpoints and the difficulty in getting permits. For years, it has been impossible to gather together from all congregations even for a few days. So in February of 2007, it was a truly a celebration when almost 100 women from Palestine’s 5 congregations gathered in Jericho for a 24-hour retreat. The presence of their sisters from Amman’s Good Shepherd Church was missed, however, as the Israeli IDF refused them permits to attend.
The formation of an established women’s committee consisting of pastor’s spouses and women leaders helped to systematize our work, organization and implementation throughout these years.
Meetings of women are documented, letters circulated, reports written and accounts balanced in conjunction with the ELCJHL’s accounting unit. The members of our women’s committee act additiona
lly as liaisons with their home congregations bearing the following goals in mind:
- Encouraging women to express their thoughts and to become more creative and assertive.
- Empowering women in legal, social, theological issues – thus enhancing their ministry in church and society.
- Identifying sustainable, achievable and manageable programs for meaningful implementation.
- Linking all women together in order to create a Lutheran Women’s Network that affiliates itself with the Christian women’s activities at large.
World Day of Prayer Services
The members of the women’s committee are involved in the preparation of the activities for the World Day of Prayer. Each year, these services have a different theme which is celebrated throughout the world. Women from churches throughout Jerusalem work together to plan these services. We hope that such gatherings are signs of a growing ecumenical awareness. We also pray for wisdom and guidance in our quest to find a better way to do ministry in a divided region with a multitude of socio-economic difficulties.
Tawasol: A Journal for Women
Tawasol is the bi-annual publication of the Women of the ELCJHL. An Arabic-language magazine, it includes writings from women of all sectors of the community. Click the links below to download past issues of Tawasol.
For more information about the Women’s Ministries of the ELCJHL, contact Mrs. Bassimah Jaraiseh, our Women’s Work Facilitator at the ELCJHL Synod Offices at email@example.com.