Saturday, April 19, 2014

Palestine: The Women Weep (34th Annual 8th Day Good Friday Justice Walk)

Women from Metropolitan Chicago Synod, ELCA, congregations:
"The Women Weep" station at 34th Annual 8th Day Good Friday
Justice Walk in Chicago. The West Bank containment wall is
recreated in the background on a series of poster boards.


On Good Friday 2014 (April 18), members of ELCA congregations from throughout the Chicago area, together with others, participated in the 34th annual 8th Day Center Good Friday Justice Walk. The theme for the walk was "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!" and this certainly resonated with the work of the Metro Chicago Synod's Working Group on the Middle East.

In preparation for the day, Rev. Carla Powell prepared a special devotion, and worked with a large team to create boards reproducing protest art from the separation wall that surrounds the West Bank.

One of our readers and our final speaker, Dr. Abdelfattah Abusrour, is the founder and director of Alrowwad (www.alrowwad.org), established in 1998 as a children and youth theater training center in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem-Palestine. Alrowwad has grown into a non-profit community center working with schools and parents to build peace in individuals as active change makers and build bridges of understanding through international tours using beautiful and non-violent tactics. Alrowwad's mission is to save lives, inspire hope in such times of despair, empowering the community and promote human values through culture, arts and education as ways of beautiful and non-violent means of self-expression and resistance against the ugliness of occupation and its violence.

Below is text of our devotion for our station (#5 - Women Weeping) together with photos from the day and images of the "wall."


Reader 1: A reading from Luke 23:27-28: A great number of people followed him, and among them were women who were beating their breasts and wailing for him. But Jesus turned to them and said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children.”


West Bank wall art:
I am not a terrorist
Reader 2: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!" These words were first spoken by civil rights activist Ella Baker in 1964, urging the movement to persevere until the "killing of black men, black mothers' sons, is as important as the killing of white mothers' sons." Today, we are also challenged to remember that the killing and unjust treatment of Palestinian men and boys is as important as the killing of Israeli mothers’ sons too. Today, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"

Reader 3: Dislocation of Palestinian families due to Israeli settlements and ongoing demolition of family homes, children’s toys crushed in the rubble, farmers cut off from their crops, people forced off land that has been in their families for generations, refugee camps. For these displaced Palestinian families, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"


"The Women Weep" in the shadow of the containment wall
34th Annual 8th Day Good Friday Justice Walk in Chicago


Reader 3: Inhumane treatment of young men and boys, arrests under cover of night, unjust torture while in police custody, missing husbands and brothers and sons, children stripped of internationally agreed upon human rights. For these Palestinian boys and men, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"



West Bank wall art:
Pulling back the curtain
Reader 2: Checkpoints, required identification, restriction of free movement within the country, entrance permits required for even the shortest trip, even Palestinian-American citizens targeted for extra document scrutiny. For Palestinians who are forced to prove their identity even to cross the street, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"

Reader 1: A separation barrier – in reality a wall - that cuts families off from each other, keeping grandparents from grandchildren, keeping extended families scattered though they are barely a mile apart, keeping men from their families in order to reliably hold a job. For families broken apart by the separation barrier, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"


West Bank wall art:
Now that I've seen it I'm responsible for it
I am not a terrorist
Your heart is a muscle the size of your fist. Keep fighting. Keep loving.
War is not the answer


Reader 2: Unnamed Palestinian men and boys killed without due process, Rachel Corrie killed by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to block the demolition of a Palestinian family’s home, falsely accused Palestinians labeled as terrorists for questioning Israeli authority. For these lives lost due to tragedy related to the Israeli occupation, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"

Wall art:
CTRL+ALT+DEL
Forgive what you have done?
ICAHD 2008
Reader 3: Ongoing violence in Gaza, miles of military devastation, fights over the holy city of Jerusalem, Israeli military muscle flexed to keep people in their place, Palestinian children threatened on the way to school, religious and ethnic discrimination against Palestinians both Christian and Muslim. For violent demonstrations of power and control against Palestinians, we weep with the women.

Group Response: "We who believe in freedom cannot rest!"

Reader 1: Open us, God, so that we may feel the breath of your spirit; Open us, God, so that we may feel the power of your majesty; Open us, God, so that together we may be strengthened to bring about human liberation and wholeness for our children. While we weep with the women, we pray for openness to allow change within our hearts and minds.

Group Response: Amen.


Open Ceremony:
 34th Annual 8th Day Good Friday Justice Walk in Chicago

Good Friday photography courtesy FJJ.
Individual "wall" boards photography by Rev. Carla Powell.


Related posts


As a part of our preparation for this prayer justice walk on Good Friday, we created some sign boards that replicate art found on the Wall (also known as the Separation Barrier) in Israel. Palestinians and visitors from throughout the world have added their own street art, graffiti, and public art to the Wall, as a sign of protest, an invitation to peace, and a critique of the lack of global intervention. We are posting pictures of our recreations of some of these sign boards in honor of those amazing artists (some known and others anonymous). These signs should help each of us consider what our own role could be in ending the injustice in the Middle East – whether gaining further personal awareness about the Wall, writing to a legislator, reading more about the plight of Palestinian people, or supporting a justice organization working in the Middle East.

(See Completed "Wall" sign boards - for Good Friday event)


Making the boards was half the fun (or more)! Check out these photos of the "Wall" sign board painting workshops - March & April 2014
















This month, Chicago area readers of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) publication The Lutheran will see an an article about the Working Group on the Middle East's advocacy for Palestinians.

(See Chicago Lutherans' Advocacy for Palestinians Featured in "The Lutheran" )