PHF Commemorates 18th Anniversary of its Founding
On March 30, 2005 the Palestinian Heritage Foundation celebrated its 18th
birthday. This date coincides with Land Day celebrated in Palestine in memory of
seven Palestinians who died in the village of Sakhnin, Galilee in defense of
their land being expropriated by the Israeli government.
Some of the Foundation's activities during the past year included the
The Foundation celebrated its 17th Anniversary by holding a
Banquet on September 13, 2004 in memory of Dr. Edward Said at the Marriott at Glenpoint
Hotel in Teaneck, New Jersey (see October 2004 newsletter).
Hanan presented lectures and exhibits on the history of textile
arts at the White Plains Public Library and at the Museum of Natural History in
New York. The lecture at the Museum was followed by an embroidery workshop
conducted by Narmin Kurzum, an experienced embroiderer and a friend of the
On September 19, 2004 Hanan presented another lecture and exhibit at the
Ibn Rushd Arab cultural organization in Richmond, Virginia, and on November 20,
2004 the Foundation participated in the WESPAC cultural evening held at the
White Plains Community Center with a display of embroidery.
Also last year, the Foundation mounted a special Christmas Theme
exhibition "From Bethlehem to Jerusalem: A Glimpse from the Past" at
the Heritage Museum of the Learning Center of the Antiochian
village in Bolivar, PA. This temporary display
costumes from Bethlehem and Jerusalem along with many art and crafts from
Last July the Foundation started photography sessions towards the
production of the long awaited book about the Munayyer Collection of embroidered
traditional Palestinian and Syrian costumes.
It is thanks to your generosity at PHF’s banquets and to your
contributions throughout the year, that the Foundation continues to be
successful in educating the public about Arab cultural traditions.
As always, we appreciate your generosity and look forward to your future
support so that we can continue doing this important work.
Last November, PHF was instrumental in helping to set up the "Bethlehem
Event" display at the English Lutheran Church in LaCrosse, Wisconsin (see
The Foundation participated in Layalee Falasteeniyyeh in celebration
Palestinian culture. The event was sponsored by Students for Palestinian Rights
held at the University of Waterloo in Canada. As part of the
Film Festival held
on Wednesday and Thursday, March 16 and 17, 2005 the organizers showed PHF video
"Palestinian Costumes and Embroidery: A Precious Legacy" along with the
films of Jenin Jenin, Gaza Strip, Tragedy in the Holy Land and
Peace, Propaganda and the Promised land.
Farah Munayyer, PHF co-founder and Vice President, was instrumental in
raising about $10,000.00 to help in setting up the ALL Palestine exhibit at the
Heritage Museum of the Learning Center at the Antiochian Village for a period of
twelve months. This exhibit will be followed by a display of The Munayyer Syrian
collection and eventually a display of PHF all Arab collection. The
money raised served to buy new mannequins and to build a platforms and
pedestals to accommodate the mannequins in a professional and artistic display.
Palestinian Costumes at Lutheran
Church in Wisconsin
By Ruth Monson, LaCrosse, Wisconsin
Every four years since 1980, members of the English Lutheran Church in
LaCrosse, Wisconsin have presented to members of their community and neighboring
areas what has become to be known as the "Bethlehem Event". This past
December, 6000 visitors, many traveling long distances, came to experience this
outstanding production. There they gained an in-depth view of what it might have
been like in the village of Bethlehem during the time of Christ's birth 2,000
As they journeyed through the village they witnessed the daily activity of
its people, culminating their visit at the manger setting where Mary and Joseph
were found with the new-born Christ Child. All participants were dressed in
clothing of the time. Even live animals were part of the scene.
In 1996, the Event was expanded to include the addition of a Middle East
"museum". It endeavored to provide an educational experience for the visitor to
learn about the region of the world into which Christ was born - not only at the
time and place in history but also in the broader Middle East then and in the
years which have followed.
This year's "museum" highlighted eight pictorial panels with a focus on
the following areas of Middle East interest: Jerusalem, Bethlehem, The Olive
Tree, Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, Mount Sinai, Palestinian costumes, The
Spread of Early Christianity in the Middle East and Islamic Arts in the Middle
East. In addition, numerous items and artifacts identified with and typically
found in Middle Eastern countries were on display. The "Crown Jewels" were two
priceless, authentic Palestinian wedding dresses from the early twentieth
century, one from Bethlehem, the other from Ramallah, beautifully displayed on
mannequins. We felt privileged to receive these proud examples of Palestinian
heritage, culture, beauty and identity.
We made an earnest effort to share the human side of the Palestinian
people in this way, the dresses serving as a beautiful non-political aesthetic
statement. In addition to the City and the Museum, the 2004 Event included for
the first time a "souk" or as it was called, the "King's Bazaar", where we
offered for sale beautiful Palestinian crafts from the Bethlehem region. Our
two-fold goal was to purchase items from artisans and retailers from Bethlehem
to assist in marketing such work during this difficult period of their economy
and also to send all profits, following the event, to a specific project or need
in Bethlehem. Both goals were realized. The "souk" was very well received by the
guests and proved to be an outstanding success.
We at the English Lutheran Church are indebted to you, Hanan and Farah
Munayyer, and to the Palestinian Heritage Foundation for sharing these wonderful
treasures with us and extend to you our grateful appreciation and thanks.
Embroidering the Fabric of Life
By David Hurst, Pittsburg, PA
You’ve probably never seen a Nativity like this one. Baby Jesus is capped
and swaddled within a soft, off-white linen bag with a maroon-embroidered wrap.
Mary is wearing an A-line dress with vertical stripes of red and purple and
blue. On her sleeves and chest are intricately embroidered panels, bearing
symbols of the Tree of Life, the Cross of Christ and the four, Gospel
writing apostles: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Joseph is there, too, in his
black-and-white-checked headwear, camelhair robe and long, linen shirt.
This Nativity is part of a special exhibition at the Antiochian Heritage
Museum near Ligonier. But don’t worry about missing it because the Christmas
season is coming to a close. For “From Bethlehem to Jerusalem: A Glimpse from
the Past” is really about Bethlehem’s prominence within the rich textile
tradition of Palestine – and this exhibition will remain open at least through
By the time of Christ, 2000 years ago, Palestine already was known as a
textile center. Villages spun and wove their own linen and wool and were
renowned for their purple fabric, the dye for which came from a special mollusk.
Basic, A-line style of dresses and tunics and the flowing headdresses that
clothed Mary, Joseph and Jesus and their contemporaries were worn by
Palestinians right into the mid-20th century.
But it was in the centuries following biblical times that Palestine’s
textile traditions blossomed. Clothes grew more colorful and distinctive by
region. And by the 7th century, women were adding elaborate embroidery to their
dresses. Young women would start on their bridal trousseau as they approached
marriageable age, embroidering panels for the chest, front, back and sides of
the dresses. Embroiderers would use symbols, colors and patterns from their home
area. So by the Second Millennium, Palestinians could look at the back panel of
a woman’s dress and know whether she was from Jerusalem or Jaffa, Ramallah or
These textiles traditions evolved but never changed until the mid-20th
century, when much of Palestine became the Jewish state of Israel. Many
displaced Palestinians had to sell their embroidered clothing for income and
began wearing Western styles. Today, more than folk art, this clothing is
considered a vital remnant of a disappearing Palestinian culture. Which is
why New Jersey-based, Palestinian-Americans Farah and Hanan Munayyer have
assembled what may be the world’s largest collection of Palestinian-embroidered
clothing, and why a portion of their collection is on display at the Antiochian
This clothing transcends contemporary politics. Arabs, Christians and
Moslems alike, living in the Holy Land over the centuries, wore these garments.
Crusaders came, saw Christian symbols embroidered into dress panels, and took
those patterns back to Europe.
In a world so violently divided these days by cultural and theological
differences, a serene unity can be sensed in these skillfully stitched dresses
and tunics and headdresses.
Why would such garments be on display at a conference center tucked into a
niche of Laurel Hill near Ligonier? The center is owned and operated by the
Antiochian Orthodox Church, which traces its roots to one of the oldest churches
in Christendom, Antioch in Syria. Many of our region’s residents are Orthodox
and – thanks to Orthodoxy’s traditional emphasis on ethnicity and heritage
– provide colorful cultural threads within our own region’s tapestry.
A visit to the Antiochian Heritage Museum to experience this Palestinian
clothing exhibit just might give you a sense of connection with the Middle East.
In the intricate patterns of Palestinian embroidery, you may see symbols of your
Dave Hurst is a former TV reporter, newspaper writer and
magazine editor, who is now a freelance writer and producer. To respond to this
column or to contact the columnist, write in care of the Daily American or
PHF Participates in WESPAC Fundraising Event
To help bring the exhibition "Made in Palestine" to the City of New York,
the Palestinian Heritage Foundation participated in the Westchester, WESPAC
activities held on November 20, 2004 at the White Plains Community Center. The
exhibit was recently on display in Houston, Texas. PHF set up an exquisite
display of embroidery made by the Palestinians in Lebanon. Also, the Foundation
raffled on behalf of Al Badia Association of Lebanon, a beautiful hand made embroidered veil. Income
from the raffle that was over the cost of the scarf was donated by PHF towards
the "Made in Palestine" exhibit.
VISIONS AND VOICES OF PALESTINE
By Nada Khader, WESPAC Foundation Director
WESPAC Foundation, in collaboration with Al-Jisser, presented an evening
of art, music and poetry to support the "Made in Palestine" art exhibition on
Saturday, November 20th, 2004, at the Westchester County Center in White Plains,
New York. It was the first such event of its kind for Westchester County and was
enormously successful, with over 600 people attending to support Palestinian art
WESPAC Foundation is a peace and justice educational organization with a
very diverse membership based in White Plains and has served the Westchester
Community since 1974. The organization includes Jews and Arabs and has been
actively educating the local community on the human rights aspect of the
Palestine/Israel conflict, strongly advocating for a just and peaceful
resolution to the conflict. The evening was part of an effort to bring the MADE
IN PALESTINE art exhibition, a traveling show of contemporary art of 22
Palestinians, curated by the Houston Station Museum Director James Harithas, to
the New York area.
Several Palestinian artists and organizations benefited from the evening,
including UNWRA (United Nations Works and Relief Agency for Palestinian
Refugees), the Union of Palestinian Medical Relief Committees, Palestinian women
in Lebanon who hand-embroidered many items that were sold that evening, and
several local Palestinian artists who exhibited some of their artwork at the
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation was also part of the evening and
exhibited some exquisite traditional Palestinian embroidery. Haifa Bint-Kadi, a
Westchester-based Palestinian mosaics artist and a WESPAC Foundation Board
member, was instrumental in organizing the evening, displaying the art and was
very effective in dealing with the media.
All in all, it was a wonderful introduction to Palestinian culture for the
local community. It was also the beginning of a very crucial dialogue that needs
to happen between the Jewish Community and the Palestinian Community in
Westchester County. Despite some initial misunderstandings that lead to
widespread media coverage of this event, people who actually attended the
evening were left with a very positive impression of Palestinian culture. Many
thanks to all who made the evening so successful!
Letters to PHF..................
Dear Mr. Munayyer,
Finally I am happy to tell you that the money transfer
has arrived. We would like to thank you again for your donation and hope that
you would agree that it will be used to buy a new piano for our Conservatory in
Jerusalem. A plaque could be attached to the piano stating that it is a donation
from the Palestinian Heritage Foundation. I think this is a nice idea that shows
that Palestine and culture in Palestine is being supported by Palestinians in
the world. I hope you agree. Greetings to you and to Mrs. Munayyer, hoping that
the next year will bring freedom to our people.
Dear Sir /Madam First of all I would like to thank you for the great work
you have done regarding this web site that opens the eyes of people that don't
know much about our great and rich culture by trying to change the way some
think about Arabs and our culture.
I am a Palestinian Jordanian living in the United Arab Emirates. I am
interested to know all about the history, customs and tradition and more about
your work. I am one of the women who wears traditional Palestinian dresses in
all occasions to show this art that comes from our lovely country. God bless us
all and thank you all again.
Greetings from Nazareth! I am writing to you on behalf of the Arab
Cultural Association (ACA) located in Nazareth. The ACA is an impartial,
independent, non profit secular organization. The association was founded in
1998 in order to foster Arab Palestinian heritage, and change the cultural
atmosphere by encouraging cultural understanding
as well as creation.
We are striving to achieve change through community based educational
projects in the fields of history, language, art, music and cultural self
definition. All of our activities are planned in a way to encourage and promote
pluralism, tolerance and democracy. Palestinians in Israel have to find their place
within Israel, and within the Arab
world as well. Constant exchange of art and culture should take place to teach
the Arab world about our community, and to let people here feel they are a part
of this world. We believe that only if we know who we are, we can build healthy
relations with others.
The ACA is vital to maintaining an Arab Palestinian cultural
identity and preserving a collective memory. With your help, we can
continue to provide this kind of support to our community. It is our hope, the
Palestinian Arabs in Israel will find a way for an honest and equal dialogue with the Jewish community and thus create a
more equal and just society in Israel.
We are currently planning our activities for next year, especially a month
of activities for the remembrance of the "Nakba". We found your very interesting
web site on a search in Google, and now we are wondering if you would consider
cooperating with us. We thought about an exhibition of Palestinian dresses and
accessories, in combination with lectures and field trips to destroyed villages.
As it is written on your site, these dresses are not just dresses, but part of
the identity, and every village had its own style and patterns. All of
these, are things very little known among the Palestinian community here, mostly
due to the constant effort of the government to exclude the Palestinian
culture from the official agenda. So, if you see any possibility to support us
in our efforts, please let us know.
We are looking forward to the opportunity to work with you and would be
happy to send you further information. Thank you for your time and
Dear Hanan and Farah
Greetings from Al-Awda in Toronto, Canada.
Please allow me to introduce myself - my name is Ayeda Ayed and I work and
live in Canada (as a biochemist at the university of Toronto) and also for AL-Awda
in Toronto (check our website www.al-awda.ca). We have noted with great interest
your heritage project and have included the link to your website on our al-awda
site. We have also been thinking about starting a similar project here in Canada
and would appreciate any pointers for starting and maintaining such an
endeavor. We would love to hear and learn about your experience in this regard.
On another note, I have noticed that you have made a film on Palestinian
embroidery (Palestinian Costumes and Embroidery: A Precious Legacy). We are very
interested in obtaining a copy for educational, non-profit screenings. Please do
let us know details for obtaining this film (cost if any, who to contact) then
we will give you our physical mailing address. What year was the film made and
how long is it?
Great site and work, hope to hear from you soon.
Ayeda Ayed Al-Awda Canada
Farah, Thank you for sending me the newsletter and the images of the
exhibition. The pieces in the display are spectacular - one more amazing than
the next. I'm so glad you and Hanan began your collection. I would love to see
the new doll collection sometime too.
Miriam Lobel, NJ
Many thanks for compiling this beautiful aspect of Palestinian Heritage.
I've watched the video 3 times already, with friends. Yes, I did see your web
site first, then when I read Shira's review, it helped "seal the deal".
I believe the dresses have a life of their own ! You can feel the spirit
of the old Palestinian people. Your family is privileged to care for & display
them. I wish I was there to see them !