QUARANTINE - DAY 48 - 22nd April 2020
As the residents of Bethlehem enter day 48 of quarantine, many are tiring of isolation and are leaving their homes - Bethlehem is seeing an increase of people in the streets. Ramadan starts on Friday so this is contributing to their restlessness, as they want to try to prepare for the month ahead.
Prospects of what the world will look like at the end of this are in the thoughts of many - will there be changes? Will there be a new global order? Will everyone be building a new future from an old base?
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra (1920 – 1994) (جبرا ابراهيم جبرا) was born in Bethlehem. He died in exile in Baghdad.
"Some people imagine that by returning to tradition, you will renew it. This is not true, for by returning to tradition, you renew nothing. But by setting out from it and adding to it, you renew its power, because only by addition can you prepare the future path for the living sap within it."
A mother and teacher in Bethlehem talks about Ramadan preparations:
It is worrying at the moment, because everyone should be staying in their houses for protection against the spread of coronavirus, but because it has been 48 days now and we have to prepare for Ramadan, there are lots of people out of their houses, shopping and not observing social distancing.
This Ramadan will be the first time in my memory that the mosques will be closed. It will be very different. Usually Ramadan is a time when we share Iftar (the breaking of the fast with an evening meal) with family. This year we will pray in our houses and we won't be able to share big meals together.
We have a lot to do to prepare before Ramadan so we can relax and focus on fasting and prayer. So this week I am trying to do as much cleaning of the house and shopping as possible. I am trying to buy the main things that we will need for the month ahead. Dates. Juices. Pastry for sambousek. Chicken - many people will only be able to afford chicken this year, as it is cheaper than red meat. I will cook Maqlouba, Maftoul, and Muloukiya for Ramadan Iftars, dishes with rice, as well as soups and salads of course. I make sweets - Qatayef (a sweet dumpling stuffed with cheese) is traditionally eaten at this time. I stuff the Qatayef after Iftar but don't fry it so that it is healthier. Iftar will be at 7.25pm this year and we will fast for 15 hours.
For sohoor, the meal before fasting, and al Fajar/dawn prayer, we normally eat light foods like labaneh, cheese, dates and yoghurt - things that won't make us thirsty in the day ahead. And, of course, we drink lots of water before we start our fast!
I am trying to buy food now and freeze it because of quarantine and so that I don't have to go to the market every day while I am fasting. I am making sambousek and freezing it now so that we can have it with meat for Iftar during Ramadan. Most people sleep after Al-Fajar/dawn and prayers. They will sleep until 12 or 1.
With so many people not working because of coronavirus and quarantine, most people will sleep late this year. Those who do have work to go to, will work from 10am to 3 or 4pm because they will need to rest. We are decorating our house at the moment with lights - fawanees. Every year they decorate the streets of Bethlehem with fawanees - but not this year...
Photo courtesy of Ibrahim Abusrour