An American at Allenby Crossing - Part 3

Selah Selah spent one year living and volunteering in the West Bank, where the greatest danger she experienced amongst the Palestinians was  growing a muffin top from being overfed.


Selah spent one year living and volunteering in the West Bank, where the greatest danger she experienced amongst the Palestinians was  growing a muffin top from being overfed.


To read how Selah’s trip began as she crossed into Jordan, see part 1, and for the beginning of her journey home, see part 2

As we wait, I watch the tired crowds move from line to line - old men and women, little children releasing pent-up energy and playing tag.  A young woman moves slowly with two hand crutches.  Her legs are uneven.   It is getting late; I can sense that it is dark outside. 


About an hour later, my passport is returned and we get in line to pass through a final Israeli security check. I see a woman approaching us, holding the hand of her teenage daughter.  The girl has bandages over her nose and cheeks. Her face is red and swollen and she leans into her mother.  Technically, the back of the line is way behind us, but we allow her to cut in front of us.  “She broke her nose and we had to go to Jordan for surgery,”  the mother explains.  “She is in great pain.”  And then she grows angry.  “Do you know how long we had to wait at the Israeli border?  4 hours!  4 hours, just sitting there in the bus!”  Her daughter doesn’t say anything.  Tears are pooled in the corners of each eye.  “They treat us like animals!  We go through this every time!” 

When we finally come out on the other side of the Israeli crossing, we find George waiting for us, God bless him!  He had sent the rest of the group ahead. They are probably close to Bethlehem by now. 

As we enter the last bus to take us to the Palestinian border, we are greeted by a chorus of crying babies and small children whose bedtime has long passed.  A young woman with a beautiful smile is sitting across from me.  She just gave birth in Jordan and is carrying her newborn son back home.  She has an older boy on a leash and is accompanied by a host of older family members whose faces beam with pride. 

The Palestinian border is a breeze compared to the other two; a token gesture of control and order.  We navigate quickly and I break into laughter as I enter the large waiting room with its rows of old movie theater style seats  They are well-worn and stained. But they are beautiful because they are in Palestine, and after 7 hours we are finally home. 

We quickly find a sherut and drive through downtown Jericho, which is lit by a neon crescent moon and outdoor string lights that shine over the central plaza where people stroll in the cool night air. Jericho is the “moon city,” said to be the longest continually-inhabited city in the world. Today it is known for its famous dates and the cable carriage ride that one can take to the ancient monastery at the top of the Mount of Temptation. 

We pass from Area A, under Palestinian control, to Area C, under Israeli control; the transition is marked by a large red sign behind us, warning Israelis that to enter Jericho is illegal under Israeli law and a danger to their lives.  

I settle back into my seat as we begin our upward climb from below sea level to 2,500 feet.   It is quiet, as quiet as all deserts are at night, and we will be in Bethlehem soon. 


A Diary of a New Jerusalemite: Birth

A Palestinian Christian Jerusalemite

A Palestinian Christian Jerusalemite

Six weeks ago, I gave birth to my first born, a son, in Jerusalem. As a Jerusalemite who is married to a West Banker, I’m obligated to give birth in Jerusalem in order for my child to potentially obtain the Jerusalem ID. 

I chose an Arab-owned hospital in East Jerusalem, St. Joseph’s French hospital, instead of the larger Israeli West-Jerusalem hospitals like Hadassah or Sharaey Zedek. Although I had many people discourage me from giving birth at St.Joseph’s hospital, because they didn’t think it was as good as the Israeli hospitals, I was determined to give it a chance. I heard good things about it from several women who actually had given birth at St. Joseph’s, and this was enough for me. I even know an American mother who had given birth to her first two children in the United States, and she said that she had a much better experience at St. Joseph’s with the birth of her third child.  

My first reason for choosing St. Joseph’s was because all the staff spoke Arabic, and that was essential for me, because neither my husband nor I speak Hebrew. However, after visiting the hospital for the first time, I wasn’t only drawn to it because of the language, which made me very comfortable, but I was also extremely impressed with the doctors, the nurses, and the cleanliness of the hospital. Most of all, I was happy to be greeted with a smile, and treated with such kindness from everyone I interacted with, which is very rare in Jerusalem, as you might know. 

One week before I gave birth, my cousin’s wife delivered her baby pre-term at St. Joseph’s. When we went to visit her the next day, she looked relaxed and happy. Although, she had to deliver her baby at almost eight months, which is very difficult, she said that the staff was so supportive, and she was very pleased with the way her delivery went. Hearing her testimony about the hospital gave me such peace and completely relaxed me, and I barely had any anxiety about giving birth.

When it was time for me to give birth, I was blessed to have an amazing midwife, who was with me the entire time during my delivery, along with my wonderful older sister and husband. The midwife was truly gentle, encouraging and supportive. Right before I delivered my baby, a baby’s nurse came into the  room to prepare to receive the baby and give him his first immunization shot. When my baby was born, they put him on my chest right away, for skin-to-skin contact, and the nurse started helping me breastfeed only minutes after giving birth. 

Afterwards, I was sent to the post-maternity ward, and to my luck there was plenty of room in the ward, which meant I had a room to myself during my two-day stay there. The nurses were very helpful at giving advice when I was struggling with breastfeeding. They also asked how I was doing, and made sure that I had plenty of rest. The food that they serve in the post-maternity ward is absolutely amazing, more like 5-star hotel type of food. Everything is fresh, healthy and tasty.

One of the most unique and personal touches at the hospital is that the nuns prepare a big tray of chocolates, along with several gifts, wrapped beautifully, and personally deliver them to each mother after her delivery. 

After spending three days at St. Joseph’s hospital, I almost didn’t want to leave. I truly had an unforgettable experience there, and I cannot recommend it more to any mother planning to have her baby in Jerusalem.


Goody Two Shoes Has a Mind Blowing Breakfast

joined my husband on a short break overseas. He was a speaker at an interfaith conference; I was a hanger-on.

One of my “hanging on” duties was eating breakfast with the other speakers.

The breakfast room was beautiful and the table set elegantly. The sun was shining in through the clean windows and as I sat down, I thought to myself, “I could get used to this.”  However, this was all about to change.

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In honor of our second year blogging together, we have asked our 8 bloggers to take a look back at their favorite blog posts from one another. In this post, we focus on our favorite posts from Israeli blogger Alice through the Looking Glass and Palestinian blogger Abbsi. For those of you who are newer readers, we remind you a little bit about each of the bloggers and their background before introducing some of their posts!

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Have you ever thought about wifi password patterns? Recently, I’ve been thinking about this as I’ve noted a certain consistency in Palestinian password preferences. Here are a few common passwords Palestinians like to use. Whether you are in a private home or a restaurant in Palestine, I highly suspect it is one of the following:

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If we can’t see the social change we work toward, are our efforts misplaced and do our words fall on deaf ears? We pour our hearts into specific endeavors, exerting great effort toward a cause, and sometimes, we seem to be making great progress! Then we look around us -- when we read the news, when we talk to the ever-present pessimists claiming to be pragmatists, when a new wave of violence begins to bubble to the surface (belying tensions and unsettled issues lurking beneath the “quiet” and “status quo”) -- and our hearts can sink in despair. Did our efforts even make a difference? Can we ever really change anything?

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In this season the press is inundated with election stories, polls, and opinion pieces. In the main, the Israel press covers international news in a more comprehensive way than does the national press of the rest of the world. International as well as local election reports and stories are of interest to a wide spectrum of people with differing preconceived notions and political agendas.

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I am an American 100%, born and raised. At age 16, after much exploration, I decided to convert to Islam. Thankfully, I was born in a country that allows each individual to choose their beliefs. I have now been a Muslim for more than half of my life. Since I am white and do not wear the hijab (headscarf), my Muslimness goes unnoticed. In other words, I rarely encounter prejudice or profiling. 

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Submission: An Assault on Identity

Time and again I think myself above it, too strong, and then stumble and fall at the feet of patriarchy, told once again that to be strong is not appropriate. From all sides, I hear that I should be “submissive” - that to have dreams and ambitions, to fight for what I am passionate about, is not appropriate for me, a woman. I have too many goals; I am too independent, too much of a risk-taker. These are not the qualities of the ideal woman. I am not “domestic” enough; my ideas and opinions are too strong and don’t fit in the community I find myself in. 

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