Update from Daoud Nassar

Dear Friends,

It is a big challenge to keep hope alive with all the destruction, the hopelessness and despair that our country is going through. This morning, I was reading the Sermon on the Mount, the strong message of comfort that Jesus shared with the people who came to listen to him. Among them were the poor, the marginalized, the oppressed and the powerless. They all heard a message of hope that changed their lives and opened a new perspective for them.

The access to Tent of Nations has become more difficult in the last couple of months; two additional roadblocks of earth and large stones have been placed on the road to the farm which comes in from Route 60. The aim is clearly to make it more inconvenient for international visitors to get to the farm. We are still waiting for a new court date, after cancellation of the December 4, 2023 session.

We had good rain in the last couple of weeks, the fields are ploughed and prepared for trees, the cisterns are filling with rainwater, and the almond trees are starting to bloom. These are all positive signs that help us to celebrate hope and life even in this very dark time. Last week, we started our tree planting campaign.  Three international solidarity groups from the US and Germany are joining us this week and in the following two weeks to help with planting. Three volunteers from Germany will be staying for a week in late February. We are glad to see international solidarity groups and volunteers visiting us in this difficult time, it is another sign of hope.

We will continue to transform our frustration and pain into positive actions, believing that things are possible even in an unjust and hopeless situation.  Please pray for us to continue our long journey with faith, love, and hope. Thank you for all your support and solidarity.

Blessings and Salaam,

Daoud Nassar

Director, Tent of Nations

-People Building Bridges-
www.tentofnations.org, www.fotonna.org
Facebook: Tent of Nations/Nassar Farm

A Message from the FOTONNA Steering Committee

“’Comfort, comfort my people,’ says your God,
‘with gentle word, tender and kind.’”  (Isaiah 40:1-2)

There is deep lament for the unconscionable plight that has been unfolding for Palestinians and the extraordinary challenge they face in holding on to hope.  We particularly feel that with our dear friends, the Nassar family.    How do we offer comfort with gentle words, tender and kind?  How do we stand alongside in solidarity while the devastation goes on and on with no end in sight?

Prayers are welcomed and deeply appreciated, though they require being accompanied by our action:

  • Raising our concerns with our elected officials and their aides,
  • Planning a trip to Palestine (and the TON farm) as a sign of comfort and compassion – or helping encourage and financially support the expenses of another,
  • Continuing your faithful work informing and educating others with stories about the people we know and the suffering being endured.

As with Daoud, I was reading the beatitudes earlier in the week and hearing the words: “Blessed are the poor in spirit. Blessed are those who mourn. Blessed are the meek.”   It is no blessing to be poor or meek or mourn loss after loss after loss.  And though the blessings point to a future date, promising that one day there will be comfort brings little solace in the moment.  But what if by being blessed, what Jesus really meant was being beloved?  Beloved are the poor in spirit. Beloved are the meek. Beloved are those who mourn.  That turns our attention to the comfort and compassion of God for those being oppressed and crushed under a heavy hand. Those words are present to bolster one’s spirit by the assurance that the blessed are not abandoned or alone, that God sees them, each of them, through a heart broken in love for them.

We see too.  We care.  We hurt.  We lament.  And we act in solidarity to bring comfort to those we love.

Thank you for your valuable partnership on this difficult road that we travel together in hope,

Charlie Lewis

FOTONNA Steering Committee Chair

For Gaza: A Re-Imagining of Psalm 13, by Rabbi Brant Rosen

While I’ve written several articles, op-eds and blog posts about Israel’s military assault on Gaza, the writing that truly expresses my heart and soul has been a series of prayers and liturgies I’ve composed as a response to the current moment. In this ongoing collection, I’ve reworked versions of traditional Jewish prayers and I’ve also written what I call “re-imaginings” of Biblical Psalms.

I find the themes of grief, rebuke and consolation in the Psalms to be particularly powerful and relevant to this moment. Psalm 13, for instance, is a profound cry of desperation and anguish written from the point of view of someone besieged by an enemy, feeling a sense of radical separation from the Divine Presence. Expressing a common Biblical theme, the Psalmist cries out to God, “How long will you hide Your face from me!”

In my version of the Psalm, I have flipped the image of “hiding of the face” to apply to our own collective consciousness – i.e., the international community’s shameful inaction in the face of Israel genocidal violence: “How much longer will we look away? How much longer will we hide our faces?”

But as is the case in so many Psalms of grief, Psalm 13 ends on a note of hope: “I trust in Your faithfulness/My heart will exult in Your deliverance.” So too, I have ended my version in one a similar note: “let us trust forever in your compassion, let our hearts sing without shame/ for the justice that is not yet lost from your world.”

How much longer
will we look away?
How much longer
will we hide our faces?
How much longer
will we shut off our souls
to this sorrow and injustice?

Answer us with the courage
to see what must be seen,
to speak the words
that too many dare not
say out loud.

Awaken us from our slumber,
this terrifying sleep of the dead,
let your light shine upon truths
that must no longer be denied.

Save us from trauma and despair,
let us trust forever in your compassion,
let our hearts sing without shame
for the justice that is not yet lost
from your world.

January 14, 2024

Rabbi Brant Rosen

Tzedek Chicago, FOTONNA Advisory Council Member

Planting Trees of Hope with the Nassars

Your response this past December to our invitation to “plant trees of hope” in this dark and difficult time has been overwhelming.  We thank you from the depths of our hearts.  Daoud has purchased trees, and waits only for the end of the rains to begin planting.

We invite you now to consider another step.  We have been encouraged to hear in the past few weeks that “solidarity groups” are forming in various parts of the US and around the world with the hopes of travelling to Palestine to stand in support of their Palestinian partners.   If you know of such a “pilgrimage” coming together in your area, could you, or someone you know make the trip, visit the farm and help in the planting of trees?

And, yes, we will ask even more of you.   As the weather warms, the family will spend more time at the farm, and having volunteers with them is important.  The visibility of people living on and working the land make

s a clear and visible statement:  Palestinians are here, and intend to stay!   Can you, or someone you know volunteer at the farm for two or three weeks?

Living in community on the farm provides encouragement to continue our journey living from faith, hope and love. Be in touch with Daoud directly at  https://tentofnations.com/volunteer/ to inquire about volunteering.

Beth Moore

FOTONNA Tour Planning and Finance Co-Director

We are Grateful to be on the FOTONNA road with you!

Thank you for all the ways that you are leaning into the wind, walking with the
Nassars on their “journey for justice with faith, love, and hope in action.”

Daoud wants you to know that he and his family deeply appreciate your
expressions of concern and care; they are physically safe and continue to
care for the farm. In this season of turmoil and devastation, he asks for your
continued prayers for all God’s children of Israel and Palestine.

Heidi Saikaly
Joan Deming
FOTONNA Steering Committee Communications Team