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News from a Tree of Life Friend:

Daoud Nassar
Responds to the
Demolition of
His Orchard


Concert and Vigil for Gaza Relief
A Tree of Life Celebration Dinner
TOLEF Mission

TOLEF Journey News

The 2015 Tree of Life Journey travelers begin their journey:
Rejecting Violence and Finding Enclaves of Beauty

Learn about some of their experiences on our Facebook page.

Scroll through the excerpts here then click on the Facebook link to see posts and photos from the trip…

Read more »

Save the Date! A Tree of Life Celebration Dinner

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A night of sharing in a delicious feast, indulging in wonderful music, drinking in the experience of our friends, travelers, Palestinian scholarship students from Beit Sahour, and guest speakers. A “State of the Tree Address” will be provided by David W. Good as an update on our Tree of Life ministry.

More details to come!

Human Rights Award for Elaine Brouillard

Elaine Brouillard, Tree of Life Educational Fund Board Member and Cape Cod TOL coordinator, has been presented with the 2015 Human Rights Award from Church Women United of Cape Cod. Church Women United (CWU) is a racially, culturally, theologically inclusive Christian women’s movement, celebrating unity in diversity and working for a world of peace and justice. Church Women United of Cape Cod is one of 1200 local chapters of CWU in the United States and Puerto Rico.

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Labor – Community Partnership

Central to TOLEF’s contribution towards a more peaceful and just world is its effort to amplify voices of conscience from faith-based, labor, civil rights, and community organizations.  In 2013, TOLEF in partnership with the Connecticut AFL-CIO, brought Mahmoud Abu Odeh, Secretary of the Legal Department and Executive Board Member of the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) from Palestine to Connecticut to address the 400 trade union delegates at the Connecticut AFL-CIO Convention. Below please find Brother Odeh’s remarks to that Convention describing the oppressive conditions Palestinian workers suffer under the Israeli occupation and PGFTU’s hopes for an end to the occupation and for peace and justice for all Muslims, Christians and Jews living in Israel/Palestine.

Speech of Mahmoud Abu Odeh (PDF)

Jiries Atrash, John Olsen (retiring CT AFL-CIO President), Mahmoud Abu Odeh, John Fussell

Jiries Atrash, John Olsen (retiring CT AFL-CIO President), Mahmoud Abu Odeh, John Fussell

March 2015 Tree of Life Journey!

Rejecting Violence and Finding Enclaves of Beauty | March 10 – 20

Please consider joining the next Tree of Life Journey and learning about artistic expression as a way of resisting violence. On this interfaith trip we will have the honor of visiting our respective sacred sites and learning from a variety of voices of conscience, Israeli and Palestinian–Jewish, Muslim, and Christian. While Palestinians and Israelis experience many dehumanizing consequences of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, they also find ways to withstand and challenge a culture of violence by creating enclaves of beauty. Read more »

Vigil and Concert Series for Gaza Relief

Michael Dabroski

Featuring violinist Michael Dabroski

Performing music by JS Bach, an original Suite for Gaza, and Palestinian melodies, and sharing notes from a concert trip to Gaza City in December 2013

March 29, 2015 4:00pm
First Church of Christ, Congregational
25 Cross Highway
Redding, CT

Proceeds from the concerts will go to Middle East Children’s Alliance, United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, and Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City/American Friends of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem

Michael Dabroski is a Vermont based violinist praised for his “sensitive, charming, beautifully nuanced, and clearly articulated” playing. Mr. Dabroski is past Artistic Director of Music in the Great Hall – a world-class chamber music series serving Baltimore, Maryland. To learn more about him visit

Olive Harvest Journey Reflections

Learning about Eco-Resistance through an Olive Harvest
Journey to Bethlehem – October 7-15, 2014

On returning from the Olive Harvest Journey, trip co-leader Erinn Staley made the following remarks during the October 19th service at the First Congregational Church of Old Lyme.

Audio Recording

This past Tuesday, I gathered for lunch with my fellow Tree of Life journeyers at a farm near Bethlehem. After spending three days visiting with the family who owns the farm and helping them harvest olives, we all felt quite attached to them.

Our Tree of Life group gave the children of the family some parting gifts, including new backpacks for school. One little girl name Noor was absolutely swimming in her backpack. I went to help her tighten the straps so the backpack would stay on. My fellow traveler Maureen asked me if I thought Noor was about the age of my own daughter, and I said I thought they looked about the same size. Maureen, who speaks Arabic, asked the little girl how old she was, and Noor replied that she is four years old. Maureen explained to her that my daughter also is four years old. She exclaimed again with a surprised look, “I’m four years old!”

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What Will Become of Our Children?

­A speech offered at the First Presbyterian Church of Hartford on the occasion of a demonstration against the massacre in Gaza
July 31, 2014

A few weeks ago I saw a production of Shakespeare’s “King Lear”, and the last lines of that great tragedy come to me as I think about the carnage, indeed the massacre taking in Gaza. “The weight of this sad time we must obey, Speak what we feel, not what we ought to say.”

Over 50 young Israeli soldiers killed in this insanity.  For me, these are not just nameless, faceless soldiers, for I have been there – 12 times in the last 12 years — and I have seen their faces; I have seen them at checkpoints and I have seen them in the streets of Hebron, and I have seen them in cafés, so full life and laughter, and yes, I have seen their arrogance as well; I have seen the terrible things done to the human spirit when you put a gun in someone else’s hands. 

Read more »

“The Words of the Prophet Are Written on the Subway Walls . . .”

These words from the song, “Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel come to mind as one walks alongside the 28-foot concrete wall that imprisons Palestinians, separating them not only from Israelis but also from their olive orchards, places of employment, water resources and other Palestinian communities.  This wall is the  location for some most remarkable works of art, including the prophetic work of the anonymous British artist who goes by the pseudonym, “Banksy.”  Read more »

A Report on the 2013 Tree of Life Series

By The Rev. David W. Good
Chairman of the Tree of Life Educational Fund

Tree of Life Educational Fund has it’s own 501c3 non-profit status, but as a part of the ministry of The First Congregational Church of Old Lyme, it benefits enormously from the moral, spiritual and financial support of the church out of which this ministry was born, and so now that our 2013 TOL series has been completed, I want to say how grateful I am for the church’s ongoing support of this ministry that this year was able to bring our Tree of Life programs, conferences and concerts to Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Georgia, Oregon and Washington DC with 22 events from September to November 2013.

Read more »