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letters from the holy land

Receiving the Holy Fire in Taybeh

Christians in Taybeh, Palestine celebrate the religious Tradition of the Holy Fire. (Photo c/o Maria C. Khoury)Christians in Taybeh, Palestine celebrate the religious Tradition of the Holy Fire. (Photo c/o Maria C. Khoury)"O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!" (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)

Everyone should have a favorite day in the Church calendar and as an Orthodox Christian living in the land of Christ's Holy Resurrection (in the only all-Christian village still left in Palestine), mine happens to be Holy Saturday. 

We usually celebrate receiving the Miracle of the Holy Fire at the outskirts of our village approximately after 5 pm in the late afternoon on Great and Holy Saturday while waiting usually from 1pm local time when this great miracle occurs annually in Jerusalem. Palestinian Christians and Muslims cannot freely enter the Holy City of Jerusalem unless they have special permission granted by Israel. Thus, on this very sacred day, for those who do not have the freedom to get into Jerusalem we celebrate in the location which God has granted us good health to witness.

The local priests, Fr. Daoud (Orthodox), Fr. Jack (Melkite) and Fr. Johnny (Roman Catholic), of all three churches with the choir chanting, and the Taybeh Scouts beating the drums march in a solemn procession to meet our cousin Ibrahim with his sixteen-year-old son Philip, who go to the city of Ramallah, where the faithful bring the flame from Jerusalem for the Palestinian Christian communities that cannot reach the Holy City.  

Wonderful Oktoberfest Celebration in Taybeh

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

We were very blessed to have passed a peaceful and successful Taybeh Oktoberfest this past weekend. I am extremely grateful for your prayers. We had thousands of people attend the two day event and honored by the presence of the American Consul General to Jerusalem at the opening celebration along with many other dignitaries. Glory be to God that it was another amazing festival in the village.

Seeking Your Prayers for Taybeh Oktoberfest

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

We are in deep need of your prayers for God's will this weekend in our village. We pray and hope to pass this unique event peacefully and with God's blessings. For those connected with media, you are welcome to reprint, post or use our news in anyway to spread awareness of our existence. We have found a very strange thing to do in expressing non-violent action and peaceful resistance. Please pray for us that we might do things pleasing to the Lord because surely making the first micro-brewed beer on this side of the wall in a 99 percent Muslim population definitely has its sense of humor. Cheers from Taybeh for a lovely weekend to you too wherever you are and that might be in God's Heavenly Kingdom like our most dearest schoolmate Fr. Matthew Gilbert; memory eternal, may the Lord rest his soul in peace. We feel a great loss but always keep our hope in Christ.

Miracle of Holy Fire Received in Taybeh

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

We are sending you sincere greetings from the sacred land of our Lord's Resurrection on this most joyous Holy Saturday where the Miracle of the Holy Fire was received from the Holy-Life-Giving-Tomb-of-Christ in Jerusalem by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch His Beatitude Theophilos III.

We prayerfully and anxiously waited until 5:30 pm to receive the Miracle of the Holy Fire in our small Christian village of Taybeh while the whole time it was carried by the altar boys and scouts (boys & girls) in a beautiful procession from Jerusalem to the city of Ramallah and Bethlehem where surrounding Christian communities went with their own church leadership and scouts to receive the flame and place on their altar table for the Midnight Holy Resurrection Service. This is such a beautiful ancient tradition and brilliantly celebrated ceremony but Palestinians do not have the freedom of movement to get into Jerusalem without permits thus "making lemonade out of lemons" more than 14 scouts groups (Christian & Muslim) were in Ramallah anxiously waiting for this special moment where the Holy Fire passed via Israeli military checkpoints, to come to the other side of the "Apartheid Wall" reaching the faithful. May the True Light of Christ reach your hearts instantly.

With Prayers and Greetings from the Holy Land

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Today is such a big day in Greece (my birthplace) that I must wish all of my Greek friends a Happy Greek Independence Day and its an even bigger day for Orthodoxy to wish everyone a blessed Holy Annunciation celebration. For our many friends across the world who are celebrating the Resurrection of our Lord, please accept our sincere good wishes for a Happy Easter this Sunday. All Christian communities outside of Jerusalem and Bethlehem are celebrating Easter a month later (in accordance with social agreement) on the old ancient calendar of the Eastern Orthodox Church. But so difficult to send nice greetings seeing the tragedy of innocent people killed in Belgium and the continued evil all around us and across the globe. Lord have mercy!

We are in deep need of the Light of Christ. I live in a land where every day we can say, Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen! It is all of the Holy Land, all of historic Palestine that was made holy by Christ Himself walking on this earth for our salvation. But it is daily not just during Holy Great Lent that we must work so hard to re-focus on the Light, the Life, the Truth and witness for Christ's love and peace as we also witness the alarming wave of violence. It is a challenge to remember the "Good News" for humanity was delivered here.

Wishing you a Blessed Holy Great Lenten Journey

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I pray and hope all of you will have a blessed Holy Great Lenten journey filled with many fruits of the Holy Spirit.

I started the Holy Great Lenten Journey in the best possible manner on Clean Monday lighting candles at the 4th century ruins of St. George and staring down at the Jordan Valley where St. Mary of Egypt spent more than 40 years of her life asking forgiveness of God; as she is one of the greatest role models in our church, I thought to myself, have I asked forgiveness from the many people I have aggravated this past year since Forgiveness Sunday came and went as fast as lightning. It seems these most holy days just sneak upon you and at the end it is pretty much like Elder Ephraim said at St. Anthony's Monastery in Arizona, "I have given you all of this time; what have you done with it? What have you achieved with your earthly time?" My poor Greek sort of translated in my brain that Geronda Ephraim was talking about stocking up on heavenly treasures; Something most of us are too busy to think about every day. But, it is that time again where we are reminded that everything we do for others, we do for Christ.

Thus, since time is so precious, may each moment be spent giving glory to God. May this Holy Great Lent allow you to slow down from your busy schedule and see Christ in others. May you feel blessed that you are in a free world since it seems here, the whole Middle East, has gone back to the first centuries where we must pay with our life to confess Christ. But, eternal life has always been the message for the hearts that turn to Jerusalem especially this holy time of year. It is the True Light of Christ that will shine when you pray, fast and remember to love others as God loves you.

The Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian (adapted)

Greetings from the Holy Land!

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Greetings from the Holy Land!

It is a great and wonderful feeling to be back in Taybeh and to received the Orthodox Christian Fellowship Real Break college group led by Father Theodore and Presbytera Cristen Petrides. We hope they will have a spiritually uplifting pilgrimage as they use Taybeh for their base to see the sacred holy sites of our Lord.

We hope if your church is considering a pilgrimage in the future to help us be in touch with any local travel agents in your area working with the Holy Land so they may place Taybeh on the list of worthy places to visit in Palestine. Rumors, however, reported in Haaretz this week say that the Isreali Tourism Ministry is waging a battle against the phenomenon of foreign tourists staying in Bethlehem hotels rather than sleeping over in Jerusalem. This might mean punishments to travel agents like cutting grants for marketing budgets when hotels in the Palestinian Authority are promoted on a pilgrimage schedule.

Wishing you a Blessed Holy Christmas

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Christ is Born!! Glorify Him!!!

Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel (which means, God with us).
Matthew 1:24

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I wish you a blessed Holy Christmas celebration! 

I sat in front of my computer screen many times to come up with something inspirational to share but I am not back in the Holy Land where I had hoped to be so that I can say I am in the very spot itself where the angel said "Do not be afraid; for see-I am bringing to you good news of great joy for all the you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord..." (Luke 2:10-12)

Have a Blessed Holy Nativity Fast

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I stared at my key board for over a month, I could not seem to write a word about the terrible conditions in Israel/Palestine. I am simply just shocked. It is September 28,2000 all over again when the 2nd uprising started. People are fed up and cannot tolerate occupation anymore. The non-violent action on the ground has gotten little attention so its seems violence grabs the media. I have my own personal problem of being denied a three month visa so I am forced to travel and try my luck in returning home next week.

I will offer a discussion following vespers at 6:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 14, 2015 at St. Mark Orthodox Church (7125 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817, vesper service at 5:30 pm).

I will pray at our sister church of St. George in Bethesda for Sunday Liturgy and hope to have a wonderful fellowship with the Sunday School children. Let us all pray together for a miracle to have our world guided by the True Light of Christ. I feel we have gone back to the time of St. George and the early centuries in witnessing for Christ, the prince of Peace and the salvation of the world.

With sincere good wishes for a blessed Holy Nativity Fast as we prepare our soul for our Savior,


Blessed Ecclesiastical Year

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

We hope you will have a blessed and happy new ecclesiastical year filled with many fruits of the Holy Spirit. A few days a bit late with our good wishes for our friends on the new calendar but a bit too early for our friends on the old. Either way, please know how much we appreciate your support, prayers and solidarity.

We have already started our school year last week in Taybeh and very fortunate to once again have helped fifteen children with their registration fees totaling $2600 from the Taybeh Education Fund with the support of six annual sponsors.

It was a very emotional beautiful encounter today where two of our students, Angie in 8th grade and Philip in 10th grade had the great blessing to meet the generous people who help with their tuition. We hope many others will place Taybeh on their list of worthy places to visit when they are as close as Jerusalem. Thus, one day, Katrina, Najwa, Daoud, and Arwa might meet their sponsors here in the "heart of Palestine."

It is a great blessing to have six out of the fifteen students have annual sponsors because it has helped our Taybeh Education Endowment Fund maintain a balance of close to $80,000. Thank you to the many church communities and individuals across America who have helped us develop.

The Taybeh Education Fund will also support four university students continuing their education with a total of $1000 this year. We are happy to share our annual report when its completed this November for anyone interested.

Walking with the Icon of the Holy Theotokos

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

What are Christians Doing Today in the Holy Land?

It is four in the morning and while everyone else is trying to get a good night sleep, Orthodox Christians from all corners of the Holy Land collected themselves to march in a beautiful procession in honor of the Virgin Mary. Every year, based on the Old Julian Calendar, the faithful gather to walk the icon of the Theotokos, the Holy Mother of God, from the monastery next to the Holy Sepulchre all the way down the via Dolorosa exiting the Old City from the Lion's Gate to reach the empty tomb of the Virgin Mary at the bottom of the hill below the Russian Orthodox Convent at the Garden of Gethsemane. This traditional march is done three days before the actual feast day. We were not going to miss this solemn celebration since my daughter was lucky to have a permit to enter Jerusalem. Now, I am sure you have no idea of the great need for freedom of movement and free access to our precious holy sites because military occupation is becoming harder than ever for me to explain. A different story by itself.

Settlers put Taybeh Land on Fire

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I have survived the Israeli security check one more time in safely returning to the village. My prayer is for peace and stability so that I may organize the Taybeh Oktoberfest, September 19 & 20, 2015 in accordance with our non-violent action.

In a brief conversation with the Mayor of Taybeh, Mr. Nadim Barakat, I was surprised to understand so much violence is happening around me although I am trying to carry out a typical daily schedule at the new Taybeh Golden Hotel. ( &

Twenty dunums of Taybeh land planted with wheat was put on fire in the middle of the night (June 24) next to the settlement of Rimmonim. The Israeli police and Israeli civil administration came to the location on the spot and were appalled at this arson attack while the owner Mr. Khaldon Hanna has experience a great loss. The settlers seem totally out of control in their hate crimes. May our Lord have mercy!


Happy Father's Day

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I am so happy to wish all of the fathers that I know or all of those beloved in Christ who serve as "fathers" to all of us, a most joyous and Happy Father's Day.

I was very blessed on my last day in Boston to hear who Fr. Christopher Metropolis, the new president of Hellenic College/Holy Cross calls "a living legend", His Eminence Metropolitan Kallistos Ware speaking on "Divine Compassion and the Icon" sponsored by St. Catherine's Vision. But I was so nervous about traveling back home to the Holy Land that I was besides myself. Especially since there seems to be extreme violence across the globe. Please, Lord have mercy!

I am no longer shocked but I was disturbed with the horrific news of innocent people dying at a Bible Study in South Carolina. I don't like to hear such things happening in a free country like the United States. This last year has just exposed more evil everywhere.

Also, I found it very strange that many of the conference participants had no idea that a church was just burned in Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East. The first thought that came to my mind was that if a Palestinian was accused of attacking any Jewish site or person, everyone simply would know immediately. I guess it does not sit well with the mass media when Israeli settlers attack a peaceful Christian church at the very site where our Lord and Savior fed 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish near the Sea of Galilee in Tiberies referred to as the Church in Tabgha (originally called Epta Pygon). This is actually one of the most famous Catholic churches and very popular on the pilgrimage trail. Do churches really have to be burned down? The graffiti on the wall in Hebrew said something to the affect that all the false gods will be eliminated. So much for the only democracy in the Middle East. Let us just continue to pray, pray, pray.

Have a Blessed Holy Pentecost

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

I pray and hope all of you are well and will continue to have all of God's blessings.

I would like to share with you some personal news that one of the happiest moments as a parent is seeing my son Dr. Constantine David Khoury graduate today here in Miami from Ross University Medical School. Although the whole family wishes for him to return to Palestine, he will spend three years at the Jamaica Hospital in New York City as a resident in internal medicine.

As we are experiencing this most happy moment in our life we were shocked to get news that 14 dunums of our land in Taybeh (14 dunums is approximately 4 acres) will be confiscated by Israel for security purposes. For some people who might be curious as to the location of this land confiscation, it is the main entrance to Taybeh coming from Jerusalem at the Israel military checkpoint.

I will try not to be outraged especially since the order was written on March 23, 2014 and not delivered to the Khoury Family until this week which means the grace period to send a complaint or file a court appeal has past.

May God see the injustice and the discrimination that continues to take place against Palestinians. All suggestions are welcomed in how we can keep our land and plant more olive trees for a better future and prosperity in Palestine.

When reviled, we bless; when persecuted, we endure; when slandered, we speak kindly. 1 Cor 4:12-13


Happy Mother's Day

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Christ is Risen! Truly He is Risen!

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I am having a beautiful Mother's Day in Boston, I must wish all of the beloved mothers I know and the beautiful women who are like mothers to others, a blessed Happy Mother's Day. It is also the day we can remember and pray for all of the beloved mothers who are in God's Heavenly Kingdom. May their souls rest in peace.

It is usually our mothers who are the ones that dedicate their whole life time teaching us to accept the living water Christ offered the Samaritan woman in today's gospel (St. John 4:5-42). It is mothers who must exemplify the most patience in life's journey to eternity.

May all of us who are experiencing a struggle, stay strong and keep the faith because our patience will gain our salvation. The only sentence I remember out of the two day conference I have just attended at Hellenic College about Humanitarianism with renowned speakers is that we serve Christ when we serve others. And, our mothers are at the core of practicing "Love thy Neighbor." May we all accept the living water that gives us eternal life so that we can be empowered to love one another especially in places of conflict where I will return next month.

I pray and hope all of you are having a blessed Happy Mother's Day.

With love in Christ and sincere good wishes,


See the Miracle of the Holy Fire

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Although I am in Boston finishing a very blessed Lenten book tour with Christina books, my eyes are turned to Jerusalem and my heart is in my husband's Palestinian Christian village of Taybeh. However, this year I will see the greatest of all miracles, the Miracle of the Holy Fire, the same way the priest monk told me years ago when I was pushing and shoving my way to be at the very front entrance to the Holy-Life-Giving-Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. I insisted to be front and center so I can finally see with my own eyes what I heard since my early childhood in Tripoli, Greece at Prophet Elias Church where my late father use to light my Pascha candle and say "Christos Anesti." I wanted to tell the whole world what Orthodox Christians experience on Holy Saturday for centuries since the Light first appeared following Christ's Holy Resurrection.

As I was abruptly asked to leave the special spot reserved for diplomats only, the skinny monk said in Greek: . (Pedimou then eneh mono me ta matia pou Vlepoumeh ) "My child, it is not only with the eyes that we see." Since that Holy Saturday (2004), I have been trying to see with my heart and soul that my final destination is God's Heavenly Kingdom. It was a great violent time between Israelis and Palestinians so tourists were too scared to come making way for me and a handful of faithful pilgrims to finally enter the Holy Sepulchre on such a glorious day.

Christ is the Resurrection and the Life!

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Although I am in Boston finishing a very blessed book tour with Christina Books, my heart is in Taybeh and my eyes are turned to Jerusalem. However, this year I will see the greatest of all miracles, the Miracle of the Holy Fire, the same way the priest monk told me years ago when I was pushing and shoving my way to be at the very front entrance to the Holy Life Giving Tomb of Christ in Jerusalem. I insisted to see with my own eyes so I can tell the whole world what Orthodox Christians experience on Great and Holy Saturday.

As I was asked to leave the special spot reserved for diplomats only, the monk said in Greek: "My child, it is not only with the eyes that we see." Thus, each and every single day, I try to see Christ first in my life, so help me God.

May our heart and our soul see that God's heavenly kingdom is our true eternal destination. May we rejoice in having a new life, a new hope, a new chance with Christ's Holy Resurrection.

A Happy Easter to all of my friends celebrating now. And, a blessed Holy Week and glorious Pascha to all. I wish you a radiant and joyous Resurrection!

In Christ's love and peace,


Sincere Greetings on This Holy Day

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I hope you had a blessed holy Annunciation Feast Day. And to all of our Greek friends a Happy Greek Independence Day! We hope and pray, one day, we might also celebrate a free Palestine. However, more than ever, following the Israeli elections, the hope of a two state solution seems dead. As Christian people we will continue to keep our hope in Christ. I am waiting for a miracle.

I am currently on a book tour promoting "Christina Goes to the Holy Land," in the Miami area. However, our Taybeh Golden Hotel finally has its doors open and I am happy to share a draft brochure with any organization wishing to have their groups overnight in Taybeh:

With sincere good wishes on this holy day,

And the Angel said unto her, fear not, Mary ... thou shall conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shall call his name Jesus. Luke 1:30-31


A Blessed Lent During These Difficult Days

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I sincerely wish all of you a most blessed Holy Great Lenten journey with your beautiful families and church communities. It is amazing that this sacred and most holy time of year just sneaked upon us so fast with some awful very unholy things happening all around the world. May our Lord have mercy! Let us just pray, pray, pray.

The Palestinian flags are flying half mass today here in the Holy Land in response to a three-day mourning of the horrific slaughter of twenty-one Coptic Christians beheaded in Libya yesterday. While I was busy in my own little cocoon complaining that it was the last Sunday to serve meat for the family lunch according to the Orthodox tradition in preparing to cleanse our soul and focus on Christ, I heard the news late.

The first thing that popped in my mind is how tragic for the families that have to deal with this horrendous loss. As I am deeply shocked throughout this whole last year with the tragic loss of life in all corners of the world, we continuously try to live a normal life in a little Christian village in the heart of Palestine.

It seems from Paris to Copenhagen to America, evil is just spreading. And, on a personal note, I was completely shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Bob Simon, the Veteran CBS journalist who spend a memorable visit in Taybeh conducting interviews. He was a champion of truth and deeply loved humanity. Although the CBS producers cut out the Taybeh footage from two major broadcasts, Bob Simon, gave us a gift of a short overtime. May he rest in peace.

I hope we might have more courageous journalists who are willing to share the truth but in many cases pay with their very life. May this most holy time of year allow for a time of healing and forgiveness so the Light of Christ overpowers all evil,

forgive me a sinner,

Epiphany on the Jordan River

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I share this reflection with sincere good wishes on this holy day! In the hearts of Christians it should be an Epiphany celebration every day because it is the reminder we belong to God's Heavenly Kingdom.

Celebrating the Baptism of Christ on the Jordan River
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.

It was simply a most glorious celebration of the Epiphany on the Jordan River today according to the Old Julian calendar. There were hundreds of priests, nuns and thousands of people from all walks of life coming to the precious site where over 2,000 years ago "...the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him..." (Matthew 3:13-17) It was so wonderful to see many local people in addition to internationals for this grand celebration.

Did You Know Christmas is Celebrated Three Times?

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

I thought you might like to see how Bethlehem looked like this Christmas. With prayers and good wishes from the very land of Christ's birth.

All Christian denominations in Palestine agreed to celebrate Christmas on the new calendar December 25th since the early 90's and celebrate the Holy Easter on the old Julian calendar according to the date with the Orthodox Church. Most towns and villages follow this cultural understanding so that people can wish each other sincere greetings all at the same time. However, Jerusalem and Bethlehem being very popular tourist cities celebrate Christmas three times according to the dates and traditions of the Latin Church, Greek Orthodox Church and Armenian community falling on the dates of December 25th, January 7th and January 19th. And this year was truly a white Orthodox Christmas in the Holy Land with snow on all the hills and mountain sides.

According to the Late Holy Father John Paul on his visit to the Holy Land in 2000, the most memorable statement that stayed in my mind is when he said: "In the hearts of Christians, it is Christmas every day." And being the very small Christian community with less than 1.5% of the population, it is nice to remember the Good News daily since the Prince of Peace brings the joy and inner peace needed to survive the violent times all around.

Dr. Maria Khoury to Visit Miami and Boston Areas

Dr. Maria C. Khoury, author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land, will be in the Miami and Boston areas and available for book signings and/or discussions about the Christian community in the Holy Land. Dr. Khoury will be be in Miami from March 19 to March 31 and in the Boston area from approximately April 23 to May 27, 2015.

If your church is interested in hosting a program, please contact Dr. Khoury directly at

Description of Holy Land Presentation:

Maria Khoury uses her personal life experiences living in the West Bank, the Palestinian Occupied Territories, to bring greater awareness of how conditions are on the ground for Christians specifically, and Palestinians in general, who suffer day to day under Israeli military occupation trying to do simple things like going to work, school, etc. She speaks from the perspective of being a woman, mother, an Orthodox Christian and community activist. A sample of her opinions can been viewed on one of the interviews on the multimedia page

A White Orthodox Christmas

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

It is the Holy Christmas Day on the Old Julian Calendar and snow has been falling all day long in the Holy Land bringing an unusual closure from the weather instead of military occupation.

Wishing all of our friends on the Old Calendar a blessed Holy Nativity and also wishing everyone a healthy happy new year with renewed hope for justice and peace.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Hymn from the 1st Royal Hour
4th Plagal tone

"Make ready, O Bethlehem! Let the manger be prepared, let the cave show its welcome. The Truth is come, the shadow is passed away; God hath appeared from a Virgin unto men --- formed as we are, and deifying that which He hath assumed. Wherefore Adam is renewed with Eve, as they cry out: Thy good will hath appeared on earth to save our race."


Wishing You a Blessed Holy Christmas Celebration

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

It is that special holy time of year where we can truly be transformed by the Birth of our Lord Jesus no matter what oppressed conditions we might be experiencing. We are promised a new beginning.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

It has been an extremely difficult year with the whole Middle East upside down and especially Christians being killed every day in Syria and Iraq. People are suffering in so many places in the world. Here in the Holy Land, such extreme severe violence broke out between Israelis and Palestinians that it is just beyond belief. Every day we suffer under Israeli military occupation but we are so grateful for your prayers. We are thankful for all who help maintain our Christian presence in the Holy Land. Our community is small but important to keep Christians in the very place where Christ was born in harmony with all faith groups witnessing the True Light. The words of the angel spoken more than two thousand years ago are more comforting to me now than ever, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)

I personally need to thank the many churches and people who support Christina Books and the Taybeh Education Fund. $1,000 was given to college students in Taybeh and $2600 as tuition registration for 15 elementary students. We have been fortunate through your kindness to be able to offer this consistent support over the last five years. The Taybeh Education Endowment Fund was established in 2006 with less than five thousand dollars and has now reached close to $80,000. Five out of the 15 children have sponsors committed to $350.00 annually.

May the spirit of Christmas remain with you the whole year and may it be peaceful in your heart, home, church and in our land. With sincere good wishes, maria

With Thanksgiving Wishes from Taybeh

Taybeh Continues to be the Light
by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

As I woke up to heavy rain and severe wind storms in one of the highest mountain regions in Palestine, I gave glory to God to be alive for another day and continue to keep my hope that all people of this region will learn to love humanity. The only good thing about the dense fog in front of me is that I could not see the illegal Israeli settlement outside my kitchen window. Settlements on the West Bank have been a huge big obstacle to any frozen peace agreement for twenty years between Israelis and Palestinians. As the harsh weather and tough political conditions continue to be at an all-time high, I was grateful for friends around the world who prayed for a peaceful day (November 25th) during the opening of the new Taybeh Winery introducing for the first time, Palestinian boutique wines. We were lucky the storm arrived at night after having a successful and historic making day with many local and international visitors. All of our friends in America are celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving and we are truly thankful for having a peaceful day. Glory be to God for all things!

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