One of Palestine's favorite schools is located in Bethany, the same town where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead . . .
One of the most prestigious girl's schools in Palestine is run by the Russian Orthodox Church, in connection with the local Orthodox monastery. The students — both Christian and Muslim — spend their days in the presence of crosses and icons, while being taught by Orthodox nuns.
The Orthodox School of Bethany is so highly honored by the local community, parents try their best to get their children enrolled.
When their studies are completed, the graduates love to dance! The girls often celebrate with Dabkeh, a native Levantine folk dance frequently performed by Lebanese, Syrians, and Palestinians.
Dabkeh combines circle dance and line dancing and is widely performed at weddings, graduations, and other happy occasions. The following video shows the joyful dancing of some Bethany school graduates:
On Facebook: Orthodox School of Bethany
On the Web: Bethany Community of the Resurrection
At the start of the 20th century, Bethany was still just a small village not far from Jerusalem. The Russian Ecclesiastical Mission purchased a modest piece of land there, close to the Tomb of Lazarus, with the intent to accommodate Orthodox pilgrims.
In the 1930’s, an international sisterhood formed in this place in memory of the hospitality of Martha and Mary. The compound is now known as the Bethany Community of the Resurrection of Christ. The community is under rule and protection of the Monastery of St. Mary Magdalene located in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Through common efforts of the first Abbess, Mary, and nuns Martha and Barbara, a medical clinic and a weaving workshop were organized there. Later, an iconography and art workshop was opened. Bethany remains an important part of the monastery.
This documentary has English subtitles, providing a wonderful view into the inner workings of this prestigious Orthodox school:
How to Help this Orthodox School: Volunteer Work & DonationsThe Orthodox School of Bethany
- On Lazarus Saturday, 1937, a boarding school for Orthodox Christian girls was opened. Girls were brought up and educated under the vigilant supervision of sisters and staff living in the community. Today, Bethany is no longer a village, but a city with a population of over 20,000 people and the school is a permanent private school in the local district. Now servicing both Christian and Muslim Arab children, the school of Bethany has been and still remains one of the best girls' schools in the area.
- Over 80 years have passed since the establishment of the Orthodox School of Bethany, and it continues to be a true staple in the community. Representatives of Palestine's Ministry of Education, as well as parents and teachers alike, share in the opinion that the school is a true asset to Bethany. Not only are the students obtaining a rich and academically-sound education, but remain surrounded by love and support from teachers and sisters of St. Mary Magdeline Convent (Gethsemane).
- The charity tradition and principles are maintained, and methods of teaching are constantly improving. Like in the old days, some of the children who are unable to live with family, due to certain circumstances, board there under full supervision and guidance of the Gethsemane Community.
- With ages ranging from 4-17, they finished the 2016-17 school year with 478 girls enrolled in the school. Students follow an academic curriculum in accordance with Palestinian standards, with focus on Arabic and English languages, mathematics and natural sciences. Additionally, all students are required to study the Russian language starting in the 3rd grade.
- Studies of religion are taught separately for Christian and Muslim students.
- Children with learning difficulties are taught separately depending on needs.
- Extra-curricular lessons allow girls to actively participate in sport activities (basketball, volleyball, horse-riding), music and choir lessons, as well as to receive instruction in handcrafts and applied art.
- About 30 qualified teachers work in the school and many of them are alumni of the program.
- Special emphasis is made on principles of friendship and mutual respect.
- Various excursions are organized on a regular basis, including archeological digs, local history explorations, visits to the zoo, visits to New Testament sites in Galilee and more.
- Students, and teachers a like, really enjoy preparing for traditional school celebrations such as graduation day, St. Nicholas Day, Mother's Day, and more. Traditionally, all feast days are conducted in three languages: Arabic, Russian and English.
How to Help this Orthodox School: Volunteer Work & Donations