Welcome to Zababdeh, a village roughly 9 miles southeast of Jenin but only 1.2 miles from the Arab American University, the first private Palestinian university founded in 2000. Zababdeh is around one and one-half hours drive north of Jerusalem in the northern region of the West Bank. This is the often overlooked Northern Region of Occupied Palestine village generally poor and under-developed. Originally a rural village with many of its resident’s farmers, however today serving the needs of the university have recently become more important in the local economy.

The university was founded in a collaboration with California State University (CSU) in Stanislaus and Utah State University (USU) in Logan. CSU approved AAUP’s first Curricula and gave the needed expertise to start the university, USU provided the faculty members and administrators to run the university in its first two years. AAUP serves the educational needs of over 11,300 students, among them there are 40% from Palestine and 55% from the Palestinian homeland and 5% from international countries, 465 Faculty members operating out of a modern 305,000 sq m campus. Hence its impact on employment in Zababdeh, mostly for service and maintenance type jobs.

Zababdeh is an ancient “Christian” village; with evidence of a Christian community dating back to the third century, local belief is that it is the site where Mary, pregnant with the infant Jesus made a visit to her cousin Elizabeth. Today roughly 75% of its resident population are Christians belonging to four churches Latin, Anglican, Greek Orthodox and Greek Catholic (Melkite).

Friends of the Holy land have supported this Christian community for some time. In 2015 we provided a grant of US$20,000 to the municipality which funded the development of a water feeder line from nearby wells in the neighbouring town of El-Kefir. At the time the residents of Zababdeh were suffering from water shortages generally but especially severe in the summer, which was resolved by this improvement for all houses in the village. More recently, we have been providing emergency help due to the pandemic.

Friends of the Holy Land’s mission is to support a sustainable Christian presence.

Christian Community

Population: 5,000

Christians: 3,500

Latin community number around 2,000. Fr. Ibrahim Nino, Parish Priest of the The Church of the Visitation, introduces you to his community here –

School: The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem built Zababdeh Latin School in 1883. Since then, thousands of Christians and a growing number of Muslim children have enrolled, and continue to enrol in Pre-School, kindergarten, Elementary and Primary (up to grade nine) levels. The School is the largest, direct employer in the village, offering the highest standard of education in the region. The Latin School provides the strongest base for community area relations: Boy and Girl Scout meetings, civil discussions on the ad-hoc judiciary, Parent-Teacher sessions. From its inception, thousands of graduates have entered into the wider Palestinian society. Over the years Zababdeh School has been renovated and new construction added to keep pace with growth and demands. Today it is the only Christian and independently run school in the area.

Anglican community is centred around St Matthew’s Anglican Episcopal Church, ministered by the Revd Saleem Dawani. As part of
 their operations in the area The Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem support the Penman Clinic which provides primary medical treatment to people of Zebabdeh and more than 12 surrounding villages. For very low fees, patients who face travel restrictions that prevent them from visiting medical facilities in neighbouring cities are offered excellent care close to home. The clinic is supported by St Luke’s Hospital in Nablus and provides dental services, laboratory services, and a pharmacy as part of comprehensive healthcare resource for people of the region.

Now let’s move on to Jenin - See you soon!