St. George’s Orthodox Council of Ramla
The Orthodox Council of St. George was established in 1924 in Ramla. It is an Arab charity council serving all residents of the city of Ramla.
The council consists of nine members:
President: Mr. Michael Shukry Qshair
Vise President: Mr. Bshara George Sousou
Secretary: Miss. Frida Manassa
Secretary assistant: Mr. Hanna Shukry Qshair
Financial supervisor: Mr. Emil Amin Khoury
Financial supervisor assistant: Mr. Demetry Farid Shahin.
Members of the council: Mrs. Josephine Ghazi Emsis, Miss. Omaima Hanna AbuElezam, Mr. Edward Jeries Moqlasheh, Mr. Elias Hanna AbuElezam, Mr. Osama Issa Wahab and Awad Yousef Khoury.
Members of the council are elected by the general members of the council every three years; they voluntarily dedicate their efforts in the benefit of the Orthodox community and the rest of the residents of Ramla.
The council’s goals:
1. Helping the needy of the Christian Orthodox community.
2. Visiting the sick people and checking on the conditions of the families in the community.
3. Providing lectures and educational activities.
4. Establishing Orthodox Scouts in Ramla.
5. Establishing Kindergartens.
6. Establishing elementary and secondary schools.
7. Providing educational courses for professional skills.
8. Supporting the members of the community in the bad and good times.
9. Maintaining good relations within the community and other Christian communities.
10. Protecting the holy places in the city of Ramla.
The population of the city of Ramla is approximately 70.000, 12.000 are Arabs – Moslems and Christians.
The council’s main interest is to raise the level of education among the Arab students, therefore, the council used the building of the educational community center which they established in 1975 and opened the first Orthodox Arab School in the area in order to serve all the Arab students of the area.
The school received donations from parents and residents of Ramla , as well as donations from overseas until the first floor of the 3 storey school building was completed. One of the former residents of Ramla , Mr. Jalil Shwartz, who currently lives in Germany , has volunteered to raise funds in Germany in order to complete the first floor of the school.
In 1988, Mr. Shwartz managed to raise more money to initiate the building of the second floor, 20% of the building was completed by then, and however, from that time until 1992 there was no progress in the building.
On August 1,1991 the idea of opening a school became more urgent , due to many problems that students and parents have faced with different school principals as well as the low level of education that those schools have provided to their children.
With the support of the Patriarch of Jerusalem - Theodoros the first, who promised to financially assist in establishing the school with all the equipment needed, the Orthodox school first opened its doors to 80 Arab students from Ramla and Lod , Moslems and Christians On September1,1991.
The first floor was divided into five classrooms, from the fourth grade until the eighth using also the basement floor as a classroom.
In the second year (1992-1993) grade 9 was added and the number of students reached 180.
The council management has continued raising funds until they managed to complete building the second floor on August 30, 1992 by collecting donations a total of 150.000 US Dollars.
In 1993, Mr. Elia Kostandi Noqol, a former resident of Ramla, donated 50.000 US Dollars. In 1994, Father Shultz from Germany donated 150.000 US Dollars within four years.
The total costs of building the third floor was 130.000 US Dollars, this amount was collected from private donors and churches from overseas and the local residence of the City of Ramla.
In the third school year 1993-1994, grade 10 was added and the number of students reached 245, in the fourth year 1994-1995 grade 11 was added, number of students reached 305. In the fifth school year 1995-1996, grade 12 was added and the number of students reached 335.
In 1995, it was the first Arab school to use computers in its curriculum, 22 computers were purchased which cost 40.000 US Dollars, in addition, air conditions were installed in all classrooms which cost 35.000 US Dollars.
An advanced science laboratory was built by the help of Mr. Shwartz who helped in getting equipments as donations from Germany.
On September 1, 2001, the council rented an additional building to open an elementary school starting from first grade until third grade; the cost of the rent is 58.000 US Dollars annually without receiving any financial help neither from the Ministry Of Education nor from the Municipality.
Today there are 385 students learning in the rented building from grade 1 until grade 6, two classes of each grade.
There are 270 students learning in the high school from grade 7 until grade 12 (2 classes of each grade 7, 8 and 9).
In the future more classes will be opened of each grade, having 2 classes of each grade from grade 1 until grade 12.
For the past 13 years the number of the high school graduates is 450 students, most of them continued their studies in Universities and Colleges, some of them have majored in different fields such as Medicine, Engineering, Law, Art and Education, and this proves the high level of education the Orthodox school provides its student.
Today we have 685 students coming from Ramla and Lod to study in our school (Elementary, junior high and high school level), we estimate that the number will reach 750 students by the time we finish the new building.
Nowadays we are in urgent need to build a new building in order to include all our students from kindergarten until grade 12, knowing that the rent contract of the rented school building of the elementary school will end on August 31, 2009 for that reason the council has managed to purchase the land surrounding the school building in order to initiate the new building.
All the needed official maps for the building are ready, a building of 3 floors 3000 square meters, which includes classrooms, a library room, laboratories, computers labs, conference room, Physical education rooms- the estimated costs to complete this plan is approximately 3,5 Million US Dollars.
We need to escalate the process of building the new school to assure study rooms for our students in the new building, otherwise 385 students will have to stay home for lack of classrooms.
On July 3,2003 the municipality of the city of Ramla has finally approved the official building certificate to give us the permission of initiating the building of the new school, the costs for planning the project reached 100.000$ and another 20.000 $ expenses for the Department of Archeology for clearance.
Our council has signed a contract with Victor Ghraieb Company of building and constructions, to start building the new 3 storey school (3000 square meter). The costs of the building reaches 2.5 million US Dollars, building started on December 31, 2008, we are doing our best the have this building ready by the beginning of the next school year 2009/2010.
The council has managed so far to raise funds from the city’s residents and the council’s income a sum of 1.250.000 $, and another 200.000$ which was donated by a generous person from the U.S who would rather keep his name anonymous. This amount will be enough to have only the body of the building ready by the end of April 2009, we would be in need for about 1.250.000$ in order to complete the interior parts of the building. If by the end of April this amount is not provided we will be forced to pause our work until we can receive this amount.
We have tried to get a bank loan to complete all the expenses, however, the bank has refused to provide such a loan to an NGO or a Council, despite the fact that we were ready to put all the council’s assets as collateral for the bank, however, our request was rejected.
The government does not financially support the project since the school is considered private claiming the lack of budget for such projects.
We are doing our best to raise funds locally and internationally, we have approached many organizations and institutions to financially support our project, we also met with the Orthodox Patriarch Thiophelios the third to provide a budget to complete the project, but unfortunately he claimed that they lack any budget and that they are receiving funds from Greece in order to cover their depts.
We are addressing every one who can financially support our project, thus supporting our existence as Arabs in Israel who have been living in a continuous struggle to preserve our identity, culture and nationality, eventually supporting our cause for a better education and future of our children.
As the community’s council, we feel committed to have this building ready to greet our elementary students in the coming school year 2009/210 , therefore, we would welcome and appreciate any financial gesture from your side to help us provide education to our children.
For transferring donations please see the following bank details:
Account name: Orthodox Council Ramla Israel
Name of bank: The first international bank of Israel L.T.D
Branch number: 030
Branch name: Ramla
Address: 63 Hertzel st. Ramla , Israel
Bank number: 31
Account number: 01-155-101699
Thank you in advance.
Council President Council Secretary
Michael Qshair Frida Manassha