As someone who has supported, and possibly even visited the Mar Elias Educational Institutions founded by Abuna Elias Chacour in Ibillin, you will want to know that they and ALL THE CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS IN ISRAEL are facing a crisis. Abuna Chacour and other Christian leaders are asking for your awareness, solidarity, and prayers.
The first of September should have been the first day of school for 2015-16 at Mar Elias High School, Mariam Bawardi Elementary School, and the Mariam Bawardi Kindergarten in Ibillin. Instead, the teachers and students from these schools and all the Christian Schools in Israel and East Jerusalem are out on strike. Since two years ago, drastic budget cuts from the Israeli Ministry of Education and restrictive rules disproportionately affecting the Christian schools have put them all in an untenable situation in which their very survival is at stake.
Negotiations have been going on for a year and a half, but the Israeli Ministry of Education and the government have not budged. Israeli President Reuven Rivlen hosted a meeting on August 24 between Christian School leaders and the Minister of Education, hoping for a breakthrough, but no real relief was offered.
This strike involves 33,000 students and 3,000 teachers. Almost 3,000 of those affected attend or teach at Mar Elias.
On the eve of the strike, Abuna wrote: “September 1st is the day on which all Israeli schools, among them our Mar Elias Schools, begin the scholastic year. Unfortunately, in the light of the tight and unreasonable restrictions that the Ministry of Education has for years been implementing and imposing on our Christian schools, we have collectively decided not to open our schools unless we reach a fair agreement through which to grant our students their rights to study fully and equally as their Jewish peers. Please share this sad news all around in the hope that it would reach people with authority.