It is a journey which celebrates not only the countryside through which it passes but also the cultures, antiquities and hospitality along the way. The World Bank has undertaken to fund a three-year project to make substantial improvements to a segment of the Trail, from Jenin south through Sebastia to Nablus. The project is a joint effort by the Abraham Path Initiative and the Masar Ibrahim al Khalil organization in which Rozana, the Siraj Center and the Palestine Wildlife Society are members. The project’s objective, in the words of the World Bank, is to contribute to job creation and income generation in marginalized communities along the Abraham Path, with a focus on women and youth.
Palestine’s countryside bears witness to the many cultures which have come to Palestine, some to stay and some to pass on. The Sufi shrines, once at the center of village life, represent one such culture. They were built as lodges for the wandering ascetics who came from the east in the 9th and 10thcenturies in search of meditation and brought Islam to Palestine’s Central Highlands. From the time of the Crusades to the end of the Ottoman Empire, these shrines were part of a living tradition of folk religion and pilgrimage. They were often built on the sites of the Byzantine churches, Roman garrisons or prehistoric caves.
Rozana’s Village Trails allow visitors to become immersed in the local life of Palestinian villages. The long history of the many cultures and civilizations which have passed through the country over the centuries will be obvious – from the “dabkeh” dance (amazing to watch but also fun for tourists to try), to the ancient soap-making process, to the traditional hospitality of rural Palestine.
Rozana designs tours of differing difficulty and length: shorter ones for minimal walking with travel by vehicle between villages, and longer, more difficult ones, such as the Sebastiya tour which includes an over-night stay in a guest-house, amidst the Roman and Byzantine ruins of the old city.