Christians 750, Samaritans 700, Muslims 344,550

7 Oct

photo credit: Mark Bowen/HOPE

They begin their presentation about their Catholic school by saying that there are 650 students, including 61 Christians and 4 Samaritans. “What? There are Samaritans in your school? … and only 61 of the 650 children in your school are Christians? … and it’s a Catholic school?” They have our attention.

The two Palestinian educators, the principal and an English teacher to 1st and 6th graders, are from Nablus in the West Bank. Nablus is the home of Jacob’s well. Remember Jacob’s well, where Jesus asked the Samaritan woman for a drink? Miss Abeer and Miss Ruya, and the people of Nablus, still drink water from that well. And there are still Samaritans in their town, 700 of them, which is almost all of the Samaritans left in the whole world. In a total population of 346,000 that is not a big number, but neither is the number of Christians: 750. Christians and Samaritans are obviously in the minority among the majority, the people of the Muslim faith.

There are four priests in Nablus: Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Roman Catholic and Anglican. The fact that there are four churches is an indication that once there were many Christians in Nablus.

Nablus is known in the West Bank for its sweets and its soap. The Catholic school at which Miss Abeer is the principal and at which Miss Ruya is a teacher is also well-known for the excellent education it provides for all the children, Catholic, Muslim and Samaritan, who come through its doors and into its classrooms, whether or not their families have the money to pay the tuition.

Along with an olive wood cross with images of the Stations of the Cross, Miss Abeer and Miss Ruya brought me a box locally made soap. The sweets will be waiting for me when I make a return visit to their homes, their school and their city of Nablus in Palestine.

photo credit: Mark Bowen/HOPE

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