Deir Beit Gamal: Heritage, Community Engagement, and Research

In cooperation with the Department of Humanities and the Office of the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, the Office of the Dean of Research held a forum titled, “Deir Beit Gamal: Heritage, Community Engagement, and Research,” on Thursday, 4 November 2021, in Furno Hall.

The forum aimed to introduce the Bethlehem University community to the history of the monastery and to its archives especially, the work of the Venerable Sima’an (Simon) Srugi (1877-1943). Ven. Srugi was a teacher, a miller, and an infirmarian, who was declared venerable in 1993 for his tireless service to the Palestinian people. This forum is a part of a new MoU that Bethlehem University is signing with the Salesian Institute and Monastery.

In his welcoming remarks, Prof Jamil Khader, Dean of Research, noted the importance of developing interdisciplinary research at the University that can be channeled to highlight Palestinian cultural heritage and historical narrative. Moreover, he said that such projects can produce original studies that can advance the state of knowledge in their respective fields and get published in leading high-impact factor journals.

Rev. Dr. Iyad Twal, Executive Vice President, emphasized the important role Bethlehem University plays in serving and developing the community’s needs. He added that the focus on the history and archives of the Beit Gamal monastery bolsters the link between community engagement and research in a way that benefits the community and the university.

Dr. Omar Abed Rabo, Chairperson of the Department of Humanities, gave a brief historical overview of the monastery and the Sama’an family. He then introduced the guest speaker, Prof Fr. Giovanni Caputa from the Beit Gamal Salesian Institute and Monastery.

In his presentation, Fr. Caputa discussed different aspects of the history of the monastery and the work of the Ven. Srugi. In particular, he presented samples of Ven. Srugi’s written records, which include nine registers of medications (1932-1942), the handbooks and prescriptions he used, pocket notebooks of the components of the medicines that he concocted, the accounts of Bursar of the convent, and his correspondence with doctors and benefactors of the clinic.

The event was attended by Br. Peter Bray, the Vice Chancellor of Bethlehem University, Dr. Irene Hazou, the Vice President of Academic Affairs, Deans and faculty members as well as students from different departments and programs. Prominent members of the Salesian community in the area, and Bishop Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Vicar Emeritus of the Latin Patriarchate for Jerusalem and Palestine, also attended the event.

Ms. Hanadi Younan, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, moderated the Q&A session.

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