Ein Kerem: “Source of the Vine”, and in Arabic: “the Generous Source”
It is assumed that this is where John the Baptist was born and where Mary visited Elizabeth: a place of birth, of gestation, of renewal, of preparation, a place of joy.
Ever since Father Marie introduced Sion to Ein Kerem, generations of sisters have been faithful to the vocation of this village, and we are entering into this beautiful continuity.
We are three communities of Sion living in this house: a community of contemplative sisters, one of apostolic sisters, and as of one year ago, a community of brothers.
Our enlarged family includes a certain number of Palestinian workers, both Muslim and Christian, who come every day from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The vast majority of people whom we welcome come from modern Israeli society with their naturalness, their direct approach, their insatiable curiosity: Why? How? Who? What? This makes for wonderful opportunities for encounters that always end up with something essential. Those who come are meditation groups, various companies, physicians, psychologists, Israeli tourists, teachers, families celebrating feasts, anniversaries, etc... as well as young couples, retired persons, individuals who are writing a book.
At times, groups of people involved in steps towards peace also come. One example is the young Jewish Israeli man who brings 50 to 70 young Arabs (Muslim and Christian) and Jews every year for educational programs in order to get to know one another. They ask us to tell the story of our Congregation as an example of a positive gaze on the other, beginning with Father Marie.
Here is a typical example of what happens here: a few months ago, there was a celebration in memory of a Dominican priest of Jewish origin; he died ten years ago. Everything was organized together with us by his close friend, a Jewish Israeli who teaches Islamic studies at the Hebrew University. One of the speakers at the ceremony was Pierre Lenhardt.
More recently, we organized an introductory evening to the book of one of our teaching colleagues. And even more recently, a Jewish community celebrated three “Bat Mitsvahs” in our garden, which had been transformed into a synagogue for this unforgettable morning.
Ever since its beginnings, we also welcome regularly the Catholic Hebrew-speaking community, for whom Ein Kerem is “home”.
What do all these persons and groups have in common? They love the serenity of this place, its simplicity as well as the welcome that is both close and discrete.
Our house is not floating somewhere up in the air. It is situated in a Jewish village, where the Franciscan church of Saint John the Baptist is the parish. We go there several times a week for Mass, and we meet the various religious communities in Ein Kerem. We form as it were a family, which reflects the Christian minority in the country (the only Christians in the village are members of the religious communities).
In addition, the brothers have a ministry with our neighbors, the Sisters of St. Vincent de Paul, who work with children with special needs and who welcome many volunteers.