Empowering Palestinian Villages, One Library at a Time
Year End 2017
An Appeal from Seraj Library Project
Empowering Communities in Palestine,
One Library at a Time
An Appeal at Year's End from Seraj Library Project
Friends, you know we're approaching the end of the year when you find yourself ankle deep in catalogs and letters from wonderful causes asking for money. For us at Seraj, this time of year is a chance to reflect on the wonderful year we have had, thanks in large part to you, our community of supporters. We completed our eighth library, which you will find in Jiftlek in the Jordan Valley just north of Jericho. When it opened in June, a busload of people from our seven other libraries arrived on the scene and helped celebrate. It was a grand occasion. We also were able to award 25 BJ Wagner fellowships this fall. So there are now 25 young people, mostly young women, who will have a leg up in their university studies.
We are grateful, too, for the wonderful annual benefit dinner in October. Because of your generosity with your time and money, we had the best turnout ever, and raised the most money ever. We have come so far.
So we want to thank you most sincerely for your continued support. In the coming year, we hope to launch two new libraries -- one in the Hebron area, and the other in South Hebron Hills. We are very excited about the possibilities that can provide help to the folks in those areas of Palestine.
Now then, if you have any money left for your philanthropic activities, please consider allocating some of it to Seraj. Donate Here. Or mail your check to Seraj Library Project, 636 N Harvey, Oak Park, IL 60302
On the other hand, if you have run out of money, please help by sending us new people for our contact list. Seraj will welcome the opportunity to bring them into our circle of friends and supporters. Simply add their names to our email sign up on our website. Or, send names and email addresses for us to contact.
Of course, we will gladly accept both new names and a financial gift.
Who among your friends would like to know more about Seraj?
You are appreciated by us and by the families that we serve in Palestine. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
John J. Cassel and Pauline M. Coffman, Co-chairs, Seraj USA
Let us know your questions or concerns, or how we can help you. Contact Us.
P.S. The Current Situation - Teaching Resilience at the Checkpoints.
Seraj Library Project US is committed is to keeping our community informed about day-to-day realities in Palestine. One purpose of our Libraries is to help communities live full lives even under the Occupation. Toward this end, the libraries teach Resilience. What follows is quite a story about Resilience
On November 16, 2017 Laurie and Estephan Salameh (our Founders) and their three children headed off from Ramallah to Jaffa, by the Mediterranean coast. Laurie recounts the day:
As most of you know, yesterday was Palestinian Independence Day (an aspirational holiday) which means we had a day off from work and school. We decided to go to IKEA to buy some rugs and to see Estephan's family's home in Jaffa, which his father was forced to abandon in 1948 leaving him and his family refugees. At the checkpoint on the way we were stopped, searched and questioned for over an hour.
They took apart our minivan piece by piece, filled it with air, removed the air, x-rayed all our personal items including the kids' car seats and the more than 20 children's books we had stuffed in the seats. They forced all five of us to pass through metal detector several times, separated us to ask invasive and personal questions all while training machine guns on us. Watching my kids get searched is the worst feeling in world.
We were furious as they began, but decided to pretend to be okay for the sake of the kids. And then, after about ten minutes of faking calm, we actually felt calm... then even jovial. It was so strange. We talked with the kids about not allowing someone to steal your joy and that all we can control in lives is our reaction and response to things that happen to us. If they want to make us afraid and angry we will laugh and find fun. So we played I-spy, jumping games and interspersed questions about racism. The irony of it all was the more we smiled and laughed the angrier the soldiers became. Which inevitably required an additional search of ourselves or our car. But that became funny too, and very quickly we were laughing and joking with all the other Palestinians subjected to this ridiculous search on their way to picnic with their children by the sea or go to work.
It could have been a horrible start to the day and a reminder that we are not welcome to leave designated areas, but we turned it into a teaching experience for the kids and ourselves. After we packed up our car, fastened in the car seats and returned all the books to their proper places we talked about how Palestinians have this strong and beautiful super-power called Resilience, and we can use it in the face of any bully, whether it's a classmate or an Occupying Force.
Laurie Salameh, November 2017
You can see past entries on the "Current Situation" here.