PHOTOS: School of Hope Kindergarten Class of 2015 Graduates

RAMALLAHThe Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah‘s Kindergarten Class of 2015 graduated on May 25th, 2015.  The graduates sang songs, danced both traditionally and to “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen.  Graduates also performed “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in English.

Mabrouk and congratulations to the graduates!

PHOTOS: School of Hope in Ramallah Holds Student Elections

(©D. Hudson/ELCJHL)

RAMALLAH – The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah held elections for the 2014-2015 student council on Monday, September 20th. Students from grades 7 to 12 voted for a handful of student representatives and then gathered at the end of the day to watch the counting of the votes and wait for the results.

Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe Leaps to Incredible Heights

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RAMALLAH/JERUSALEM, 26 May 2012 – With spinning bodies, whirling traditional costumes, and powerful leaps the more than 45 high school students that make up Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah wowed the packed audience during their 12 May performance.

As living witnesses to the “hope” for which they are named—al-Raja means hope in the Arabic language—the students performed with a joy and enthusiasm that was irresistible to the crowd.

The evening’s performance also included traditional songs performed by students from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah.

The al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe was founded in 2004 with the partnership of the Grefsen Videregaende Skole in Oslo, Norway, and has performed both locally and internationally in Norway and the United States of America.

Today, more than 45 high school students—Christian and Muslim alike—participate in al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe, practicing six hours each week.

Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe Performs with Flying Colors

JERUSALEM, May 20, 2011 – The al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah soared to new heights with its performance last week.

The more than 45 high school students come together after class to practice Dabke, the traditional dance of the Palestinian people, many hours per week during the school year, and their love for the art shone through their passionate performance.

Their name—al-Raja—means “hope” in the Arabic language, and through their bold movements, traditional embroidered costumes, and lively Arab music they convey both the history of the Palestinian people and their hopes and dreams for freedom and peace in their land. In their dancing students Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah—Christian and Muslim alike—offer a powerful witness that the ELCJHL is proud to support.

The al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe was founded in 2004 with the partnership of the Grefsen Videregaende Skole in Oslo, Norway, and has performed both locally and internationally in Norway and the United States of America.

To learn more about the al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe of the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, visit their page right here on elcjhl.org: al-Raja Folkloric Dance Troupe

Building Hope in Palestine: Cornerstone Laid for New Building for the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah

Students from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah around the new cornerstone.

To the right, students from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah gather around the new cornerstone laid by Rev. Dr. Munib A. Younan, Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL); Dr. Salam Fayyad, Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority; and Mr. Christian Berger, Representative of the European Union Monday, February 7, 2011.

To view more pictures from the event, click here, or click on the photo to the right.

JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH, February 7, 2011 – “This new building builds hope, not only for the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, and not only for the Lutheran community, but for all of Ramallah and the Palestinian people,” Bishop Younan said in his words at the cornerstone laying Monday morning for the new school building in Ramallah.

“We have always considered ourselves, as Palestinian Christians, to be an integral part of the fabric of our society, and that means we have a role to play in education and in societal issues in our country. It is part of the mission of our schools that we prepare young Palestinian women and men to seek how they might build their state. We teach our students to respect human rights—especially women’s rights—to respect freedom of religion and to dialogue with other religions. We emphasize peace education in our schools, and the right for each and every person to live in dignity.”

Younan praised this project as a wonderful example of the cooperation of Church and State for the well-being of the whole. This new building project is the joint venture of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL), the European Union (EU), and the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Education. Younan expressed his thanks to the European Union for its full financial support of this project, and spoke of how he looks forward more such partnerships for the welfare of building a modern civil society. It is the pleasure of the ELCJHL in partnering with both the European Union and the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Education in the building of this school.

Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad was an honored guest at the ceremony. In Prime Minister Fayyad’s speech, he spoke of the role of Palestinian Christians in Palestinian society as being indispensible, and said that Palestinian society, as a whole, must encourage Palestinian Christians to continue in their role. Fayyad also added that the aim of the Palestinian Authority is to end the Occupation by peaceful means, with a viable two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian State.

Mr. Christian Berger, the European Union Representative, was also on hand for the cornerstone laying ceremony, and said in his speech, “it is a great pleasure to be here, as education is essential in Palestine… The European Union has for many years now has been pursuing two objectives. One of those objectives has been access to education, and this project today is a testimony of that.”

Also present for the cornerstone laying ceremony were Rev. Dr. Mitri Rahab, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Christmas Church in Bethlehem and President of the Synod of the ELCJHL; Dr. Charlie Haddad, Director of Education for ELCJHL Schools; Mr. Salameh Bishara, Resource and Curriculum Development Officer and Programs, Projects and Activities Coordinator for ELCJHL Schools; Mr. Shawqi Hawash, Principal of the Evangelical Lutheran School in Beit Sahour; and Rev. Saliba Rishmawi, pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope in Ramallah, among many other ELCJHL partners from Europe and North America.

Founded in response to the needs of Palestinian Lutheran refugees who had fled to the Ramallah area, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Hope began serving Lutherans in Ramallah in 1954. The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope began eight years later in 1966 as a kindergarten with ten students and two teachers. Hope School graduated its first Tawjihi class in 1979.

Since its inception, the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope has been serving the greater Ramallah community regardless of “religion, gender, capabilities, or financial/social status,” and aims to serve “the whole Palestinian society… spreading… values, such as acceptance, love, civic spirit, forgiveness, and openness.”

The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope, under the present direction of Principal Michael Abu Ghazaleh, continues to grow, and is currently serving 454 students—22% of whom are Christian, 78% of whom are Muslim—and employing 38 teachers and support staff (2010-2011 statistics).

The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope has been outgrowing its present facilities in recent years, and this new building project will enable Hope to grow to serve more than triple the number of students in the Ramallah area. Besides a new facility, Hope is also looking to expand and grow its educational and extra-curricular offerings in future years.

The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah is one of four ELCJHL Schools in the West Bank, with a co-educational history extending back to 1851. ELCJHL Schools currently serve in educating 2,027 students. 52.5% of students enrolled in ELCJHL Schools this 2010-2011 school year are Christian, 47.5% of students enrolled are Muslim. More than 200 educators are employed by the ELCJHL.

The Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope has also been a member of the Model Schools Network, a project of Amideast, and is a participant in the present ELCJHL Libraries Project: Opening a World of Possibilities, a project that is seeking to grow English-language libraries for the four ELCJHL Schools through the support of individuals and the partnership of the Global Mission Program Unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and Wartburg Theological Seminary (WTS) in Dubuque, Iowa.

For more information about the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah, other ELCJHL Schools and Educational Programs, or the congregations of the ELCJHL, visit ELCJHL’s website at www.elcjhl.org.

Graduations in the ELCJHL Schools

It’s graduation season at the ELCJHL schools.  Talitha Kumi School and the Ramallah School of Hope held their graduations last weekend, and Beit Sahour and Dar al Kalima will hold theirs  this coming weekend.   There are also graduations at the kindergartens, including Al Mahaba on the Mt. of Olives.  High school graduation ceremonies have many speeches, music and three student speeches, one in Arabic, German and English. Senior Hania Halabi, giving the English speech at the School of Hope ceremony, shared her personal motto:

“Do what is necessary, then what is possible, and all of the sudden, you will discover doing the impossible. Keep the hope.” –Senior Hania Halabi from Ramallah School of Hope

ELCJHL Schools: Creative Writing Project

A recent publication for Palestinian children is the result of the teamwork of seven student editors in sixth grade from the Evangelical Lutheran School of Hope in Ramallah. Children from various schools in Palestine contributed articles, poems, stories, and art work for Al Raja al Sagheer, (The Little Hope), which may be one of the first children’s magazine in Palestine written by children in grades 1-6. According to the editors, only children younger than thirteen were allowed to submit entries. This is the fifth issue for this publication, which is underwritten by local donors and businesses. Such activities are important to the Lutheran Schools’ commitment to encouraging creativity and higher level thinking skills as part of a holistic education.

Al Raja Dance Tour through the US

2006 Ramallah Dancers

Al Raja Dance Troupe has made it from Chicago, through Nebraska, California, Texas, Minnesota and now Appleton, Wisconsin. They have performed in churches, auditoriums and even in the Alamo Dome, in front of 20,000 people, sharing their culture, dance and life with those they meet. They have introduced hundreds to Palestine and – more importantly, Palestinians.

At workshops during both weeks of the ELCA Youth Gatherings, the young people described their lives and realities to American kids like them.

2006 Ramallah DanceWe are from Palestine, and we will never leave it,” one dancer from the Al-Raja Dance Troupe told a crowd of 100 gathered at the ELCA Youth Gathering in San Antonio, Texas, in early July. They described life under occupation, and invited their audience to come and visit them and see for themselves. The group showed a slide presentation, told stories about their lives and taught others steps from “debka,” their folk dance. When they showed slides and told about the almost 30-ft wall being built through the middle of Palestinian land, only a fraction of the Americans present knew anything about it. Two young people from Nebraska were shocked by what they heard, and told the Ramallah group that they would organize a trip to visit them. “We want to get involved and do something. We have to,” they said.

The group has been touring in the US since mid-June, performing and telling their stories in Chicago, Nebraska and California and has now reached San Antonio, Texas. Here they performed for the Multi-Cultural Youth Leadership Event and will be performing at both sessions of the Youth Gathering. After San Antonio, they will travel to Minnesota, Wisconsin and New England.

Group tour leader the Rev. Ann Helmke facilitates a workshop with 6 of the Al-Raja Dance Troupe. They talked about life under occupation, what it is like to live under curfew or behind a wall and be forbidden to leave their town without permits. “We’re just human beings. We want to live normal lives like anyone else.” The group asked the Americans to come and see them and to read more about the situation.

2006 Al-Raja Folkloric Dance Group