Birzeit Heritage Week 2017

 The sounds of laughing, ancient songs and traditional instruments, the marching feet of the bagpipers, and the stomping feet of the dabke dancers permeate the streets and alleyways of Birzeit’s Old City for five days every summer.  The sights of Palestinian embroideries, glass-making, and ceramics, together with the aromas of fresh-baked “mana’esh” and apples from the Golan complete the sensory explosion that is the Birzeit Heritage Week.  The wonders of Palestinian heritage and history are revisited while a trip to the Saadeh Science House connects visitors to the future.

The Heritage Week Festival in Birzeit is unique among festivals in the breadth and diversity of the exhibits, productions, articles for sale, and activities.  It is unique in its attempt to weave the fabric of the historic area of Birzeit into a mosaic of activities and events converting it to what might become a bustling tourism and cultural heritage center. There will be cinema, street performances, theater for adults and for children, and dancing and music – much, much music, from jazz to traditional Palestinian folk songs.  There will be soloists and big bands, groups from inside and outside the Green line, with songs that may be witty, patriotic, cynical, or hopeful.  Art, some from prisoners, will be everywhere – hanging in courtyards and attics, depicting the obstacles of today’s life under Occupation.  Other countries join in Birzeit’s festivities at the “International Souq”.


Maftoul Festival

Held under the auspices of the Ministries of Tourism and Antiquities and organized by The Rozana Association, the Maftoul Festival is both a celebration of one of Palestine’s most widely known foods – maftoul or couscous – and a competition among the villages of the West Bank.    The competitive entries are judged on the basis of several criteria including taste, dish presentation, and preparation. The judges are chefs from the Palestinian Chefs Association and, unlike many such groups in other parts of the world, include at least one woman chef.  Indeed, the focus of this Festival is on women as it allows women of rural villages, for the first time, to exhibit their culinary skills, based on centuries-old recipes, for professional scrutiny and approval.

The Rozana Association organizes these contests as part of a larger process which seeks to reconcile Palestinians with their broken history, to foster sustainable rural development and to provide a platform for Palestinians, especially women, to express their unique Palestinian cultural identities. Rather than setting one village against another, the competitions strengthen the bonds which all Palestinians feel to their village and thence to an identifiable Palestinian culture as they attempt to counter the Israeli policy of dispersing their peoples.

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