Come celebrate this milestone in our life!


Order a Calendar, support a child.
Order a 2002 Card

Our last three years newsletters.
Come celebrate our 50th Anniversary with us. Find our inside!
A wonderful story of how we started.
What does Rawdat El Zuhur mean?

The School Buildings
Teaching peace is around and within us.

The yearly field trip and day camps.
How you can sponsor a child and build for peace.
Our graduates continue helping.
Teaching peace is an important life meaning at Rawdat El Zuhur.

Just some of our friends.



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P.O. box 19796, Jerusalem
Tel. 02-628-2062, FAX 02-583-4058


November 13, 2001

Dear Friends:

A new scholastic year has started on the first of September amidst tension, pain and worry.   Worry about the grim future, and the daily safety of the children and staff. The children at the school are the second generation which has been brought up during the thirty four years of the Israeli Military occupation.  Our main concern is to be able to rekindle hope continuously in the hearts of those children and their families.   It is this hope that will enable them to foresee a brighter future, be committed to public welfare, and look forward to justice, and peace in this Holy Land.  The Land from where the first message of peace was proclaimed seems to be further away from peace than any other place on this Globe.

At a time when the whole focus of the world has changed since the tragic events of September 11, the Palestinians more than anybody else could empathize with the people of the USA for the great loss and the devastation that befell on them.  For we have been there also, trying to cope with the daily loss of life and devastation ever since we were dispossessed of our country and identity in 1948.  To all our friends in the USA we want to express one more time our shock and grief for the loss of so many innocent lives.  Our hearts ache for all of you and especially for the bereaved families, and particularly those whose dear ones simply vanished in the air, or could not be retrieved from under the rubble.  It would have been so much more comforting had they been able to see them at a burial service.  May God bless their souls, and spare you and humanity further tragedies.  We were hoping and praying that the USA would find an alternative for this war on “terrorism” than vengeance, which is simply inflicting more devastation and suffering on innocent people without achieving its real goal.

2002 is a special year for Rawdat El-Zuhur.  We shall be celebrating our fiftieth anniversary and remembering the role of Elizabeth Nasir, the woman with vision who founded Rawdat El-Zuhur in 1952 as a home for destitute girls.  The spirit of loving care which prompted Elizabeth to start this home continues to prevail all through the work which has developed as a coeducational elementary school. Thanks to the staff and women who continue to run Rawdat El-Zuhur with vision and dedication.  We are writing at this time to invite you all to come and join us on the 4th and 5th of April 2002 for the celebrations.  The music and art teacher are preparing a musical for the occasion.  We hope the situation will allow as many of you to be with us on this meaningful occasion.  April is a lovely time of the year to be in Jerusalem.   It will be the first week after Easter, and you can seize this opportunity to come earlier and enjoy Easter and Spring.  The program will be posted at our website after January.  Check it out for updates also, and for our news. 

         We seize this opportunity to thank you for being friends of Rawdat El-Zuhur and to send you our best wishes for a peaceful year.   We are not sending our regular newsletter this year, so we hope you can check our news through the web site.  But we are sending you   the special anniversary calendar with The Rights of the Child as its theme.  The featured drawings, are all contributed by the school children, and are inspired by the various articles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, as an expression of the children’s hopes and dreams for a brighter future.  We hope you can make a special contribution this year on the occasion of our fiftieth anniversary, and help those children realize their dreams. Your gifts will certainly help us cope with all the challenges that face us as we continue to provide the children with quality education, special programs, and counseling which will help them overcome during those difficult times. 

With warm greetings,

Samia Khoury           Salwa Zananiri
President                   School Principal

Other News
This week in Palestine – issue No. 48, April 2002

Elizabeth Nasir- ( 1909-1987) The dynamic woman behind the story of Rawdat El-Zuhur. 

Fifty years ago on a cold February day in 1952, Elizabeth Nasir who was  the first woman director of the social welfare department in Jerusalem (Jordan at that time),  was on one of her inspection  tours  in the area.  She ran across two little girls around six and five years old hanging around one of  the streets of Ramallah.   Their sight meant a social problem to Lizzy as she was known by  her friends.  Immediately she got out of the car and spoke to the girls to find out that they were begging because they had no food at home. Upon accompanying those girls to their home, which was a bare hovel with torn sack cloth on the floor, she found out a blind mother, and a sick father with  no food whatsoever aound.  She immediately got a court order to put the girls in the reformatory to spare them further destitution and humiliation.  

This incident was the turning point in the life of Elizabeth Nasir,  who had been evicted from her home in Jaffa in 1948 where she was working as a social worker.   She  committed herself to shelter  destitute girls and help them earn a living by honorable means.  To fulfill that goal, she used part of her home for this project,  and she was personally on the streets looking for destitute girls, and searching for them in hovels and caves.  She even sat in coffee shops  in the old city, to the shock of passers by,  so that she can talk to drivers and laborers who knew  the whereabouts of those girls.   With financial support of her many  friends, Elizabeth was able to train the girls with the necessary skills for work.    She believed very strongly in the power of  music in lifting  the spirits, and   she was the talk of the town as she danced and skipped with those barefooted girls.    In 1955 she was awarded a special certificate from the National Recreation Association of the USA for “Enriching the Human Spirit through Recreation.”  She intentionally named the home of those girls Rawdat El-Zuhur, (Garden of flowers)  to spare them any stigma and to make  them feel like flowers in a garden.  She was avante-garde for her generation, and she always had original ideas and her friends and colleagues never ceased to be amazed at her energy and her progressive thinking,  and her determination to achieve what she set out to achieve. She gets credit for playing a very important role in putting an end to the begging phenomenon in Jerusalem before 1967.   

Elizabeth  had started her career as a teacher, and then she shifted to social work.  But she was truly a mixture of both, a born teacher and  a dedicated social worker which were a great asset to the   spirit of Rawdat El-Zuhur. The  loving care, compassion  and the respect for the human dignity continue to prevail up till this day.  She never allowed anybody to sulk or be violent with the girls.  Only a pleasant teacher could  work at Rawdat El-Zuhur, and the only time she was forced to ask a teacher to leave was when that  teacher referred to the girls as “street girls”.

After the Israeli occupation in 1967,  the new challenge for Lizzy was to  meet the arising need for Palestinian schools in East Jerusalem.   By 1971 Rawdat El-Zuhur developed into a coeducational elementary school,  with an emphasis on moral values and quality education. A kindergarten was added in 1979.  Music and dancing, along with  art, and sports continue to be an integral part of the school curriculum.  The  dream of Elizabeth Nasir was fulfilled before she passed away on April 2, 1987.

Elizabeth and her twin sister Victoria were  born in Nablus in  1909  to Rev. Hanna Nasir, the Anglican pastor in Nablus at the time,  and his wife Sa’ada Shatarah.   She studied at St. Mary’s School in Jerusalem and was amongst the first Palestinian women university graduates, as she got her B.A. from the American University of Beirut in 1933.   She was probably one of her kind as head of an organization who had resigned in her life time,  against the norm in the Arab world  of  holding on to a seat “until death do us part”.  But then Lizzy was a confirmed non conformist,  so she was able to enjoy being honored in her life time  by the board, staff, and children of Rawdat El-Zuhur  and her friends in July 1986.  The Elizabeth Nasir Trust Fund was established from donations in her honor on that occasion,  and donations in lieu of flowers for her funeral were added to that fund as well.   Celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Rawdat El-Zuhur will take place on the 4 th and 5th of April 2002, and a special musical will be put up in honor of the memory of  Elizabeth Nasir.

Rawdat El-Zuhur continues to be a very busy place.  And with the preparations for the Jubilee celebrations on the 4th and 5th of April there is never a dull moment.   In spite of the drop in the number of visitors to the Holy Land, yet the school does receive a trickle of them every now and then. Friends, who have been very concerned and want to see first hand what is happening, and to express their solidarity with the Palestinian people living under military occupation for almost thirty-five years, have made a special effort to come. 

An Unexpected gift -Bequest of Anna Baker
An old friend of Rawdat El-Zuhur and its founder Elizabeth Nasir, Anna Baker passed away on  August 13th 2001 in  Connecticut leaving a bequest for Rawdat El-Zuhur for the amount of $10,000. Bless her soul, she will always be remembered and will be  specially recognized during the Jubilee celebrations. 

Wisdom and Compassion
Shortly after school started, one of the parents came into the office and asked for his son.  The son came in and the father ordered him to get his bag.  “Is anything wrong” asked Mrs. Zananiri. “Yes, you sent a note that he should pay his fees, and I cannot afford to pay a penny; I have been out of work, so I am getting him out of school.”  “My goodness” thought the principal; “a school which has been established for destitute people, and has been serving the lower income community for so many years cannot possibly lose a child for the sake of $300.”  The boy came back to the office with tears in his eyes as he had already said goodbye to his classmates.  Realizing how desperate the father was, Mrs. Zananiri had to think quickly and take the right decision.  “I can’t let you go because of the fees; go back to your class, and I will deal with the matter”.  The boy rushed to her and hugged her to express his gratitude.  Feeling good that she let the boy stay but worried about the school budget if more fathers were to do the same, one of the teachers came to her rescue.  She had watched the whole scene and was so touched by the wisdom and compassion of the principal and especially by the boy’s reaction and hug to his principal, that she offered to pay the fees.  The teachers’ salaries are just as minimal as the children’s fees, but this caring and sharing is what makes Rawdat El-Zuhur so special. Two other teachers have also paid fees for two students.

ANERA Grant for The Computer Laboratory
Thanks to a special grant from ANERA, ten new computers have been added to the computer laboratory making the total number 23.  The grant made it possible also to have a network and an Internet service.   This will help the children in their research work and in communicating with other school children.  Through donations from other friends, the Future kids program has been installed at the beginning of this year also, and the children are learning a variety of skills and producing nice work.

To promote reading and the use of the library, the upper classes have been encouraged to read stories for the younger children on a one to one basis.  This has been a very fruitful exercise, and the children enjoy finding a cozy corner for the story reading. Asides from the enjoyment that both the older and the younger children are getting, it is one way of training children on cooperation and volunteer work. 

Training and community Service
Teachers of Grades one and two attended a two-week course for the application of the new curriculum that is being introduced in the Palestinian schools. 

Four senior students from Al-Quds University spent a whole term training at Rawdat El-Zuhur as kindergarten teachers.  Their supervisor was so impressed with the training, that he is sending another set of students to train as elementary school teachers.

From the nursing school we had four trainees for a whole term also as part of their community health course requirements.

But this year we missed the students from Birzeit and Bethlehem Universities who used to  do their community service at the school.  They were a great help, but with the closures and the checkpoints they have not been able to come.

Recognition of Kareem (grade 6)
The sixth graders ran an exercise in democracy as they elected the most distinguished student in their class.  Kareem was recognized for his special effort in making strides to comply with the values of the character tree of the school and in his grades as well. 

A special program at the National Palestinian Theatre (Hakawati) 
As part of the Jubilee celebrations, The Hakawati hosted the children of Rawdat El-Zuhur,  their parents, the alumni and some of the children of Helen Keller school for  a special program by Nakhleh El-Shiber. The name of this special character in itself is paradox because Nakhleh in Arabic means a palm tree, and shiber means a hand span.    The performances are actually done by two persons appearing as one in the size of a midget, and there is always a special message that comes across. On that occasion Nakhleh concentrated on the Rights of the child which were  expressed by the children in the special calendar produced for the Jubilee. The children danced and sang and the function was very jolly.  Many thanks to the Theatre and Nakhleh for offering their services as a gift to Rawdat El-Zuhur. 

Thank you for visiting.  May God bless your days and nights, while also
Blessing this  ministry to children

Web Author
Begun in 1997, updated May 2, 2002