Over 130 friends, supporters, and guests of the Tree of Life Educational Fund gathered for a celebration banquet at the Old Lyme Congregational Church in Old Lyme on Sunday, June 7th. This banquet was made possible thanks to the great leadership of Tree of Life Coordinator, Mary Tomassettii and her crew of volunteers. After friends from far and wide shared a delicious Middle Eastern dinner prepared by Jiries Atrash and his kitchen crew, violinist Laythe Al-Rubaye played two pieces for the gathering. The first was his own composition; both were influenced by traditional music from the Middle East. David Good then announced that the TOL Scholarshop Fund will now be the Huda George Alatrash Scholarship Fund in honor of Jiries’ mother. Huda Alatrash insisted on a good education for her own children and was a promotor of education for all Palestinian youth. Read more »
On May 16th the Shepherd’s Field Orthodox School in Beit-Sahour held it is annual graduation. Twenty-one students graduated and will take the Government University entrance exam. The school principle, George Sa’adeh, recognized the support of Tree of Life Educational Fund. He called TOLEF a strong supporter of the school and talked about how it annually gives scholarships to students at the school. In recognition for the work Tree of Life Educational Fund does for the school, Jiries Atrash was given a beautiful olive wood plaque with his name as Tree of Life Coordinator for Palestine and Israel carved on it. Read more »
The 2015 Tree of Life Journey travelers have returned from 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…
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.
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.
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
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 dabroski.com
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.
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!”
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.
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 »