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maria khoury

Epiphany on the Jordan River

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

I share this reflection with sincere good wishes on this holy day! In the hearts of Christians it should be an Epiphany celebration every day because it is the reminder we belong to God's Heavenly Kingdom.

Celebrating the Baptism of Christ on the Jordan River
Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.

It was simply a most glorious celebration of the Epiphany on the Jordan River today according to the Old Julian calendar. There were hundreds of priests, nuns and thousands of people from all walks of life coming to the precious site where over 2,000 years ago "...the heavens were opened unto Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon Him..." (Matthew 3:13-17) It was so wonderful to see many local people in addition to internationals for this grand celebration.

Did You Know Christmas is Celebrated Three Times?

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

I thought you might like to see how Bethlehem looked like this Christmas. With prayers and good wishes from the very land of Christ's birth.

All Christian denominations in Palestine agreed to celebrate Christmas on the new calendar December 25th since the early 90's and celebrate the Holy Easter on the old Julian calendar according to the date with the Orthodox Church. Most towns and villages follow this cultural understanding so that people can wish each other sincere greetings all at the same time. However, Jerusalem and Bethlehem being very popular tourist cities celebrate Christmas three times according to the dates and traditions of the Latin Church, Greek Orthodox Church and Armenian community falling on the dates of December 25th, January 7th and January 19th. And this year was truly a white Orthodox Christmas in the Holy Land with snow on all the hills and mountain sides.

According to the Late Holy Father John Paul on his visit to the Holy Land in 2000, the most memorable statement that stayed in my mind is when he said: "In the hearts of Christians, it is Christmas every day." And being the very small Christian community with less than 1.5% of the population, it is nice to remember the Good News daily since the Prince of Peace brings the joy and inner peace needed to survive the violent times all around.

Dr. Maria Khoury to Visit Miami and Boston Areas

Dr. Maria C. Khoury, author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land, will be in the Miami and Boston areas and available for book signings and/or discussions about the Christian community in the Holy Land. Dr. Khoury will be be in Miami from March 19 to March 31 and in the Boston area from approximately April 23 to May 27, 2015.

If your church is interested in hosting a program, please contact Dr. Khoury directly at

Description of Holy Land Presentation:

Maria Khoury uses her personal life experiences living in the West Bank, the Palestinian Occupied Territories, to bring greater awareness of how conditions are on the ground for Christians specifically, and Palestinians in general, who suffer day to day under Israeli military occupation trying to do simple things like going to work, school, etc. She speaks from the perspective of being a woman, mother, an Orthodox Christian and community activist. A sample of her opinions can been viewed on one of the interviews on the multimedia page

A White Orthodox Christmas

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

It is the Holy Christmas Day on the Old Julian Calendar and snow has been falling all day long in the Holy Land bringing an unusual closure from the weather instead of military occupation.

Wishing all of our friends on the Old Calendar a blessed Holy Nativity and also wishing everyone a healthy happy new year with renewed hope for justice and peace.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

Hymn from the 1st Royal Hour
4th Plagal tone

"Make ready, O Bethlehem! Let the manger be prepared, let the cave show its welcome. The Truth is come, the shadow is passed away; God hath appeared from a Virgin unto men --- formed as we are, and deifying that which He hath assumed. Wherefore Adam is renewed with Eve, as they cry out: Thy good will hath appeared on earth to save our race."


Wishing You a Blessed Holy Christmas Celebration

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

It is that special holy time of year where we can truly be transformed by the Birth of our Lord Jesus no matter what oppressed conditions we might be experiencing. We are promised a new beginning.

Christ is Born! Glorify Him!

It has been an extremely difficult year with the whole Middle East upside down and especially Christians being killed every day in Syria and Iraq. People are suffering in so many places in the world. Here in the Holy Land, such extreme severe violence broke out between Israelis and Palestinians that it is just beyond belief. Every day we suffer under Israeli military occupation but we are so grateful for your prayers. We are thankful for all who help maintain our Christian presence in the Holy Land. Our community is small but important to keep Christians in the very place where Christ was born in harmony with all faith groups witnessing the True Light. The words of the angel spoken more than two thousand years ago are more comforting to me now than ever, "Do not be afraid; for behold, I proclaim to you Good News of great joy that will be for all the people." (Luke 2:10)

I personally need to thank the many churches and people who support Christina Books and the Taybeh Education Fund. $1,000 was given to college students in Taybeh and $2600 as tuition registration for 15 elementary students. We have been fortunate through your kindness to be able to offer this consistent support over the last five years. The Taybeh Education Endowment Fund was established in 2006 with less than five thousand dollars and has now reached close to $80,000. Five out of the 15 children have sponsors committed to $350.00 annually.

May the spirit of Christmas remain with you the whole year and may it be peaceful in your heart, home, church and in our land. With sincere good wishes, maria

With Thanksgiving Wishes from Taybeh

Taybeh Continues to be the Light
by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

As I woke up to heavy rain and severe wind storms in one of the highest mountain regions in Palestine, I gave glory to God to be alive for another day and continue to keep my hope that all people of this region will learn to love humanity. The only good thing about the dense fog in front of me is that I could not see the illegal Israeli settlement outside my kitchen window. Settlements on the West Bank have been a huge big obstacle to any frozen peace agreement for twenty years between Israelis and Palestinians. As the harsh weather and tough political conditions continue to be at an all-time high, I was grateful for friends around the world who prayed for a peaceful day (November 25th) during the opening of the new Taybeh Winery introducing for the first time, Palestinian boutique wines. We were lucky the storm arrived at night after having a successful and historic making day with many local and international visitors. All of our friends in America are celebrating a Happy Thanksgiving and we are truly thankful for having a peaceful day. Glory be to God for all things!

Praying for a peaceful day and good weather

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Although the news from Jerusalem continues to be more violent day by day, we are trying to carry out a normal life as much as possible under occupation. Please keep us in your prayers.

We are most honored that the Consul General of Belgium has selected Taybeh for the celebration of the King's Day (King of Belgium) tomorrow at our Taybeh Golden Hotel. We will be introducing for the first time the Palestinian boutique wines during this event made by my nephew Canaan Khoury, the new winemaker who trained with Roberto, our Italian wine maker using state of the art equipment from Italy and very fine grapes from Taybeh and the surrounding towns of Birzeit and Aboud that were crushed last August 2013. We hope to have many dignitaries for the opening.

NYC Dec. 6 Women Deacons Conference

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Greetings from the Holy Land!

I wish all of you a blessed Holy Nativity Fast. Tomorrow, we are actually celebrating the transfer of the relics of St. George from Asia Minor where he was martyred to Lod (next to the Tel Aviv airport now) where his mother lived in ancient Palestine. It has been an annual tradition that Christian communities from all corners of the Holy Land gather in Lod to commemorate this special feast day in addition to the one in April. However, some of you might know the ongoing violence in Jerusalem and the unrelenting settlement expansion and police harassment, riots and marches inside Israel have increased following the cold blood killing of an Arab youth by police in Kafr Kanna. The Israelis and Palestinians have been killing each other back and forth in revenge attacks for many months now. Thus, many people in our community were simply too scared to get a permit and travel to the original St. George Church to continue this century old Christian tradition in memory of St. George the Great Martyr. We pray for better times ahead and keep our hope in Christ.

Taybeh Oktoberfest Canceled

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

Usually this time of year for the last nine years, I have been organizing our oktoberfest celebration and always asking for your prayers since it is a miracle to do such crazy things in a conservative society. I am sharing this press release because I have not been able to write much else being stunned with all of the violent happenings in the region. Please feel free to share with your local media if you find it appropriate. As dark as the times might appear to be, we keep our hope in Christ and wish for Taybeh to continue being the flame of peace. I sincerely thank you for your support, prayers and solidarity.

With love in Christ from the sacred holy land where the most unthinkable unholy things continue to happen,

Taybeh Oktoberfest Press Release
Taybeh Brewing Company, Taybeh, Ramallah, Palestine The Holy Land.

October 3, 2014

The Taybeh Brewing Company regrets to announce that the harsh conditions of Palestine have led to the decision to cancel the 10th Annual Taybeh Oktoberfest 2014. The Taybeh Beer family expresses solidarity and prayers for all the suffering people of Gaza, the West Bank and the communities in the Middle East and grieves the tragic loss of innocent life.

Since 2005, Taybeh Oktoberfest has been a unique opportunity to initiate a distinctive-style festival in Palestine that is aimed at promoting local products, boosting the economy and bringing a sense of normality to the harsh conditions faced under occupation. The Taybeh Oktoberfest also provides an international cultural exchange with many bands and dance performers traveling from all over the world to join local artist groups to share their art on the Palestinian stage.

Have a Blessed Ecclesiastical Year

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

As I wish you a blessed peaceful holy new ecclesiastical year, I remain stunned at the silence my church has towards the horrific and unspeakable evil Israel continues to carry out. May our Lord have mercy upon those who ignore this injustice. I am just shocked that after Israel attacked schools, hospitals, ambulances, mosques, media offices, the power plant, UN buildings and staff that Israel continues to enjoy blind support from America. I guess it is pretty much like the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon once said: "...I want to tell you something very clear. Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it." So I assume everyone will break out their checkbooks since this last war on Gaza cost Israel over 2 billion dollars.

How sad, today, Israel also announced the biggest land grab in twenty years; 1,000 acres of land will be confiscated in the Bethlehem area for more illegal Israeli settlements. May we continue to pray for peace and justice. May we forgive the barbaric and uncivilized killings of Christians in the region which all the latest news point the finger at the United Stated and Israel for funding. I guess the more fanatic Muslims the Middle East has makes some people happy. It just simply scares me...As we have gone way back before the times of Constantine the Great, I do pray for steadfast witness to the True Light of Christ. May Love always conquer hate. May inner peace exist in our heart as the new Church year reminds us to focus on saving our soul.

With sincere good wishes on this holy day,

We Woke Up to Another War

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

Dear Friends of Saint George Taybeh,

The terrible escalation of violence continues between Israel and Palestine with no end to Israeli bombings all night long in Gaza and Hamas firing rockets into Israel. It appears with 40,000 Israeli soldiers called that all options for a large scale invasion are on the table. Unfortunately what Israel is calling "Operation Protective Edge" has continued a devastating bombardment destroying many homes and hurting innocent people. This sharpest escalation of violence includes hundreds of rockets fired from Hamas reaching Jerusalem and over 230 Israeli air and sea strikes leaving Gaza completely devastated this morning with the hospitals not being able to care for the injured.

In my opinion, this is the collective punishment that the people must endure for the unity reconciliation agreement made last month between Hamas and Fatah, our two political parties in the Palestinian Authority. Israel does not want peace but rather wants to see us in "pieces." Let us pray that our Lord will have mercy!

I can only repeat what one Palestinian man said following the complete destruction of his home where twelve children lived: "From God we came and to God we will return."

Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

What Does the Pope's Visit Mean to Me?

A blessed Holy Ascension Day to all!!

O Christ our God. You ascended in Glory and gladdened Your disciples by the promise of the Holy Spirit. Your blessing assured them that You are the Son of God, the Redeemer of the world. (Ascension Hymn)

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

The Visit of Pope Francis to Israel/Palestine brought more excitement than ever because anyone and everyone in news media came to Taybeh to interview the local Christians. I am so very disappointed, however, that one might spend five hours with a news team and it is not sure they will use the two minutes they are planning since the producers always have the final word. Either way, since the village is known for having people who are "Taybeen," meaning "good" or "pleasant," we continue to welcome visitors and news media with open arms. Although, on the ground we feel our situation will stay the same no matter who visits.

Furthermore, when follow-up emails begin with such a sentence: " apologies for the delay in responding to your email. Indeed, I am deeply thankful for your time, consideration and gracious hospitality. Our trip to Taybeh was as eye-opening as it was heart-breaking...Your struggle is real and I applaud you for your courage..." most likely they are not using the footage and they are not bringing the Holy Father to visit you. So sad! But at least His Excellency the Consul General of France expressed his solidarity and support and had a great tour of Taybeh this last week.

Will the Holy Fathers Bear True Witness?

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

It is a special day in the Holy Land where His Holiness Pope Francis will meet Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre to commemorate the historic meeting of their predecessors in Jerusalem fifty years ago that began a new era of Church relations. The motto for the Apostolic Pilgrimage is "So that they may be one" (John 17:20-23). Also scheduled to arrive in Jerusalem is Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai of Lebanon.

Although the Holy Fathers will not make it to Taybeh, many newspapers came to report on the Christian community. We wish to be for the world the light and the hope needed under Israeli occupation. We are locked up behind a wall in an open prison and settlements continue to go up all around us while Israel continues to control all of the boarders, the roads, the natural resources. It is a hassle and harassment not to have the freedom to enter Jerusalem without permits.

Receiving the Holy Fire Once Again

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed.D.

We have just celebrated the Miracle of the Holy Fire in Taybeh in a most magnificent way at the outskirts of our village approximately 5:30 pm local time on this Great and Holy Saturday while waiting all afternoon when this great miracle occurred once again in Jerusalem.

"O Gladsome Light, of the Holy glory of the Immortal Father, heavenly Holy, blessed Jesus Christ!" (Holy Saturday Morning Prayers)

The local priests, Fr. Daoud, Fr. Jack and Fr. Aziz, of all three churches and Fr. Peter who came from Jerusalem with the choir chanting, and the Taybeh Scouts beating the drums marched again this year to meet our cousin Ibrahim with his son Philip, who went to the city of Ramallah, where the faithful brought the flame from Jerusalem for the Palestinian Christian s who cannot reach the Holy City due to lack of permits. Many residents of Taybeh, were in the streets for the ecumenical procession which was simply glorious although a bit cloudy with a sprinkle of rain.

The solemn and beautiful procession in our village ended at St. George Church, where Fr. Daoud placed the flame on the altar to await the faithful for the Resurrection service of Holy Pascha: "Come ye and receive light from the unwaning Light, and glorify Christ, Who arose from the dead."

In the last few years during Great and Holy Saturday, I have delivered the same message from the Holy Land. But it has been a great spiritual joy to keep reminding friends about the miracle that appeared for the first time during the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 24:4; Matthew 28:1-4) This magnificent miracle is at the core of our Christian presence in the Holy Land The Miracle of the Holy Fire received today by His Beatitude Theophilos III, Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem was broadcasted live on Palestine TV.

Waiting for the Miracle

by Maria C. Khoury, Ed. D.
from the Holy Land

Every year during Holy Saturday, for many centuries, there is a most magnificent miracle that continues to take place in Jerusalem since the time we were allowed as Christians to celebrate ceremonies in public.

Pilgrims from all over the world gather in Jerusalem to witness the greatest of all miracles--the Miracle of the Holy Fire.  The miracle has turned into a glorious cultural event, but many simply cannot get anywhere near the Holy Sepulchre Church.  The soldiers, the police, the large crowds, the noise, the drums of the Boys Scouts and the Girl Scouts anxiously waiting to receive the Holy Fire from the Life Giving Tomb of Christ, is a day long adventure. But it always happens at approximately 2 pm on Holy Saturday.

One year, it was a miracle in itself that finally after twenty years waiting, because of the Second Uprising and the height of the violence there was a lack of pilgrims in the Holy Land, I got inside the church myself.

It is an exciting celebration with the sound of many languages at the same time. Representatives of many churches from all over the Holy Land and beyond, come to receive the Holy Fire and carry the flame back in small lanterns to their particular churches for the Midnight Resurrection Service.  Special permits must be issued for Christians from Gaza and the West Bank to enter Jerusalem. Furthermore, as an added bureaucracy, you need another ticket/pass to enter the Holy Sepulchre.

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