An article written by Claire Hajaj, the daughter of former Tabeethan, Mahmoud Hajaj, talking about Tabbetha’s legacy and and the special friendships it creates.
“I first heard from Tabeetha School last year after publication of my novel Ishmael’s Oranges, based on my parents’ unlikely marriage. It unleashed a torrent of emails from ex-Tabeethans, who had just celebrated the school’s 150th anniversary. They were thrilled to rediscover an old friend and none of them seemed at all surprised that Mahmoud Hajaj would marry a Jewess. Why should they be? They were Jews and Muslims and Christians who had all known and loved each other from childhood.
These relationships were built in Tabeetha’s classrooms amid bitter divisions. In the chaos that followed 1948, tens of thousands of children were swept into Jaffa displaced by the fighting, or arriving on wings of Israel’s Aliyah, the immigration of diaspora Jews. So Tabeetha threw open its doors to boys and girls, to Arabs and Jews, promising a non-political education for all it sheltered.
It’s a promise Tabeetha keeps to this day. Half a century after my father graduated, I stand outside the school’s iron gate set in a high wall on a quiet street beyond Jaffa’s tourist centre, painted the colours of sea and stone.”