Birzeit, Palestine- A church group from Buffalo, New York, led by Ken Petersen, visited BSCC during their pilgrimage to the Holy Land and were captured by the stories of the lives of each of the members.
Members of the Birziet Senior Citizen Center have stories of their lives that hold a legacy of preserving the traditions and heritage of Palestinian Christians for hundreds of years along with the message and teachings of the first followers of Jesus Christ. Elders of Palestine prove to be strong advocates of the collective Palestinian identity as they know of times before the Israeli occupation; and that is why BSCC has become such a popular pilgrimage destination.
Jamileh Aranki, HCEF representative in Birzeit, addressed the group on behalf of Birzeit elders, welcoming them and introducing all the programs and activities that the center offers.
The pilgrimage group enjoyed spending time with the elders, participating in their daily activities, including playing bingo singing traditional songs and dancing Dabkeh, in which the church group was taught the steps of the traditional dance. They ended their visit with the members sharing a delicious special Palestinian dish of “Mloukhieh”.
Ken Peterson, the pilgrimage leader, commented on the visit: “we have always welcomed Palestinian groups in our church back home, who told us a lot about Palestine and Palestinians, how fascinating and great they are. But now, that we actually visited Palestine, we got the chance to see with our own eyes and feel for real what they were talking about! The most amazing thing that actually touched us is the kindness of the people. We, as American people, support Palestinians and stand for their right to live in peace. Visiting this great place –BSCC- gave us the chance to touch the real hope and warm love which is kept deep inside those wonderful souls, despite all sadness, challenges, and injustice. We encourage all Americans to come and visit the Holy Land”.
Mrs. Ivon Ameera, a BSCC member stated, “we loved this group who listened patiently to us. They were lovely and energetic. We taught them Dabkeh and we danced together. We enjoyed chatting about several things including how we survived several previous wars, with love, praying and lots of hope!”
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