October 2019

“A common vocation in the great house Jerusalem”. The visit of the JACC NGO for refugees to the Terra Sancta Museum

A moment of exchange to get to know each other better and to understand more deeply Jerusalem and its complex reality in which both associations, ATS pro Terra Sancta and the Jerusalem African Community Center (JACC), operate. This is the meaning of the meeting between Josie Mendelson, director of JACC, accompanied to her collaborators, and the staff of ATS pro Terra Sancta at the Terra Sancta Museum, the Franciscan archaeological museum located at the second station of the Via Dolorosa.

Association pro Terra Sancta has been committed to supporting the JACC association since 2017, but already in 2014 the then Custos of the Holy Land Pierbattista Pizzaballa had been interested in supporting the community of Christian immigrants in Jerusalem.

JACC is the only association, managed mainly on a voluntary basis, that in Jerusalem assists hundreds of asylum seekers through language courses, cultural activities and providing them with legal, psychological and humanitarian support. In Jerusalem, about 3,500 asylum seekers come mostly from Eritrea, Ethiopia and Sudan. Today they live in Israel without having obtained refugee status and no legal recognition.

Director Josie, a South African Jew, says she feels a particular connection with the Franciscan reality: “Our center was born thanks to the Franciscans who first believed in our social work and will always be very grateful to them”.

All the NGO staff was very impressed by the visit of the Convent of the Flagellation and the Terra Sancta Museum, in particular by the strong educational vocation of the project; since the beginning of 2019, in fact, more than 1300 children have visited the museum.

“I think a wonderful message comes through the museum”, continues Josie, “Watching the multimedia projection and retracing the history of Jerusalem and of all the peoples who have it, one after another, conquered, I have reviewed the history of my people, but also the connection with the other peoples who inhabited it. Jerusalem is a city that has been able to welcome and hopefully can do the same with the wonderful community of asylum seekers “

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