I was very proud and grateful that Alex Pinkowish (on left in blue jacket), son of Tom Pinkowish and Mary Boone, members of our church community, took part in our recent Tree of Life Journey to Palestine, Israel and Turkey. Here is a message I sent to Alex just before departure:

Dear Alex,
Back at the very beginning of our church’s Tree of Life ministry, we established a friendship with a remarkable school led by George Saadeh. You will meet him on this journey. On one of our earliest Tree of Life journeys, we visited the school and in one of the classrooms, we noticed that there was one empty desk and chair in the classroom. Students sadly shared how they kept this open in honor of Christine Saadeh, one of their fellow students, who was shot and killed by Israeli soldiers when they opened fire on her family’s car, mistaking it for militants. George, Christine’s father, was shot numerous times as was her mother, Najwa. Her sister, Maryanne, as well. They survived, but sadly, Christine was shot in the head and died while being carried by a priest through the streets of Bethlehem. To honor her memory, her fellow students kept her chair open in the classroom.

Shepherd’s Field School is named in honor of the Shepherds in the Nativity Story that heard the news of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem. “Beit Sahour”, means “Place of Vigilance” in memory of how the shepherds “kept vigil” on the night Jesus was born, and the people of Beit Sahour pride themselves on being the grandchildren of those shepherds. For our church’s annual Living Manger, we use a shepherd’s outfit that we brought home from Beit Sahour. So, the lead shepherd in our pageant or living manger wears that outfit as the “shepherd from Beit Sahour.” When not in use, the shepherd’s robe hangs next the Bedouin Tent in our Tree of Life room in the basement of the Parish House.

Alex, I would be most grateful if you would present Tree of Life’s honoraria gift of $1500 when you visit the school.”

Here is Alex’s response:
“Reading this story has both pained me and moved me beyond words. I would be more than honored to meet these people who continue their lives as pillars of strength and perseverance to their community after such a horrible tragedy befalls them, and to present them this gift in your names. Thank you so much for considering me for this honor and privilege. Christine Saadeh’s story will never leave my memory.”

I know you will want to join me in prayers of thanksgiving for Alex Pinkowish, a wonderful young ambassador of our church!

David W. Good
Minister Emeritus