The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Only at Christmas

Through the barrier and checkpoints, Palestinian Lutherans struggle to maintain a sense of family

Only at Christmastime is Jumana Khoury (name changed to protect the family), 25, not afraid to walk out the door of her home into Jerusalem’s Old City. Every time she leaves she risks being arrested by Israeli police.

Due to the Israeli separation barrier, Khoury is one of many Jerusalemites who struggle to live under the same roof as spouse and child, to not become cut off from parents and grandparents, and to show up at church or work on time.

Khoury, a native of Bayt JÄ?llÄ?, a mostly Christian village five miles away, married her husband, Hanna, six years ago at the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada (uprising). Twice she’s applied for a Jerusalem residency permit based on “family reunification.” Twice the Israeli Ministry of Interior has denied her request with no explanation. Since then she’s lived in Jerusalem illegally with her husband, a legal resident, and their son, 15-month-old Michael. But it’s different at Christmas.

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