The Tabri Sisters

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 15, 2007

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Flag of Palestinian Territory  ,
Friday, May 11, 2007

The Tabri Sisters

Last night I met with Salwa and Fadwa Tabri, two sisters who have retired from the Ramallah Friends Boys School (FBS). 

Salwa is a pianist who played accompaniment for student products, chapel and chorus.  After teaching a few years, she went to Germany for further musical study. She has MS now and is no longer able to neither play the piano nor walk without assistance.

Fadwa was the FBS librarian for 25 years and also taught Arabic to English-speaking students (I should have found her earlier so I could learn Arabic in my spare time!  She tried to teach me "you're welcome" but I'm afraid to say, both of them were laughing so hard at my pronunciation that we gave it up.)

Their father, Farid, was at the boys school almost 50 years before retiring (1919-1968).  He taught Arabic and after a while was also Dean.  He also led chapel and one day would read from the Bible and the next day from the Koran.  He studied Arabic in Egypt with a great religious teacher (Muslim), went to college in Germany where he met his wife, and spent his life dedicated to the Friends Schools when they were boarding schools.

We talked about the school for awhile and then Salwa asked me, "Why don't people in America know that Christians and Muslims live together in peace? We are Christians and are surrounded by Muslims but we all live in peace and have for generations. In your time here, haven't you found this true?"

Of course I have found that statement true. The Izmekneh family that has adopted me is a religious Muslim family.  We respect and love each other.

Salwa then said, "Living under occupation is the worst."  She and Fadwa then talked about how when they lived under Jordanian rule, they all lived in peace and even carried Jordanian passports. But now, life is so hard.

During the 2nd Intifada a shell hit the water tank on their roof top and water started pouring in on them as they were sleeping upstairs. They were able to turn the water off before too much damage was done. Another rude awakening in the middle of the night happened when the Israeli soldiers were pounding and pounding on the front door.  They asked to see their identity papers and then realized they had the wrong house.  But meanwhile, these two women were awakened from sleep because of an error.

Salwa also has been the conductor of the Palestine Chorus from Ramallah and they were to perform in Jerusalem.  But first they all had to apply for permits to go.  When the permits were returned, everyone had one except for Salwa, the conductor.  The thinking may have been they won't come if their conductor is denied entry. But these sisters are feisty.  They used an ambulance and Salwa rode in the patient bed.  They went to the checkpoint, thinking they could get her through that way.  But the checkpoint was closed and after lying in the patient bed for 2 hours, they decided to call it quits.

They told several other stories, but what comes through is the courageous spirit of non-violent resistance.  They said that the Israeli's want us to get on our knees and beg for mercy, but that will never happen.  We will continue to carry on our daily lives and resist when we can.  Our spirits will not be broken!

The impact of the Quaker values in the Friends Schools is seen so clearly in the lives of these two Christian women.  Remember to pray for the Christians here under occupation and also for their Muslim neighbors. They want to live their lives in peace.
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