Pal Craftaid tee-shirt line growing

Pal Craftaid is offering a new Tee-shirt to its clothing line, with rose-and-red colors that pop.

All of the Tee’s are produced by women artisans in the Bethlehem area and may be obtained from Pal Craftaid board members, or by contracting Kirsten Johnston, the distribution coordinator, at

“The fabric Tee-shirts are fully fair trade and are produced by artisans who work in relationship to the Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union (BAWU),” says Ervin Bullock, Pal Craftaid’s marketing coordinator.

The BAWU has a long and history as a non-profit charitable organization and cultural society. In operation since 1947, it has the dual task of preserving Palestinian traditional arts, and, securing work that enables women to support their families and children.

When the BAWU was conceived, one of the original goals was to provide work for women that could be done at-home, a principal that is still observed. The artisans deliver finished products to the BAWU, which sits in the city center of Bethlehem.

The first Tee’s were designed with a wintertime motif. This Tee offers softer colors and an intricate design.

A cross for comfort

Our holding crosses are one of Pal Craftaid’s most popular items.
A source of comfort, this cross may be held in the palm of your hand, kept in the pocket of your jeans, or, kept at your bedside table. It is teeny enough to go with you practically anywhere.
It is a lovely gift for someone in the hospital, a nursing home, or, heading off to college. Plenty of churches give holding crosses to new members, both adults and youth.
These crosses may be purchased in three sizes, from $3 to $7.

A cross necklace for the season

Pal Craftaid offers you a plethora of crosses to wear during the Lenten and Easter seasons – or any time of the year! These affordable necklaces are produced by Bethlehem artisans and are forever keepsakes.


404 Jerusalem Cross Necklace – One of the most popular crosses in the Holy Land is the Jerusalem cross. Its geometric design conveys a multitude of meanings, with four small crosses tucked into the beams of a central cross. Some say the center cross represents Calvary and the four others, the Gospels. Some says it means that Jerusalem is the center of the world. Others say it represents the crusading countries who centuries ago sent armies to Jerusalem, with the center cross symbolizing the English.


#402 Plain Cross
Plain Cross


402 Plain Cross Necklace – This simple wooden cross is the cross-symbol used by the earliest Christians. No ornamentation. No wounded body. Just a symbol of faith that speaks across the ages and never loses its power.



#411 Fancy Grapevine
Grapevine Cross

411 Fancy Grapevine Cross Necklace – An ornate little cross, the grapevine reminds us of the bonds forged at the communion table, where Christ calls the faithful. Its delicate craftsmanship illustrates how Christ is the vine, and, the people are the branches. (John 15:5)


#403 Double-decker Filigree
Double-decker Filigree Cross



403 Double-decker Filigree Cross Necklace – This necklace is a cross within a cross, an unforgettable design that is simple, yet elegant.

A Lenten Study — Our Gift to You!

The Way of the Cross Lenten Study

A Devotional by the Rev. Elizabeth B. Knott, Pal Craftaid Founder

The Way of the Cross Lenten StudyThe issues of church and society today are not unlike those which Jesus encountered and which he addressed by lifting up the values of the Kingdom of God. In his time the values appeared radical, and so they are today.

In his time, oppression and occupation were the common experience of the majority, so today oppression and occupation are experienced in his homeland.

Through the Lenten study, “The Way of the Cross in Mark’s Gospel,” you will see more clearly what it means to be a follower of Jesus. You will be engaged in finding your way to follow Jesus through the exploration of Mark’s Gospel by considering probing questions and by your own reflection.

The Via Dolorosa – the Way of Suffering of the Innocent One, Jesus, is being repeated globally today.

On Good Friday and Saturday, you will be encouraged to contemplate the contemporary stations of the cross in Jesusʼ homeland of Palestine, to see and to feel the suffering of the innocent, and also to identify other places in the global village where there are inhumane conditions of suffering.

Let us allow Jesus to open our eyes and heart through this Lenten study.

Some people find it helpful during their reflection times to feel and smell the smooth olive wood of a holding cross from Bethlehem such as those sold by Pal Craftaid.

Catch new tee-shirts for winter wear

Winter Tshirt

Pal Craftaid is adding hand-embroidered Tee-shirts to its line of clothing – produced by women artisans in the Bethlehem area.

The Tee’s may be purchased only from Pal Craftaid Board members and are available both in black – with red designs that are perfect for winter – and in white, with softer colors, such as blue. Both Tee’s are available with long and short sleeves.

The design somewhat resembles Christmas trees in glorious colors and can be worn either for dress-up under a blazer or as casual wear.

“I love my black Tee-shirt with the design from Bethlehem, with what looks like a field of Christmas trees.  On Sunday someone came up to me and said it was “the most gorgeous Christmas T shirt he’d seen because it was so subtle!”

“It’s beautiful year-round but especially at Christmas,” said Ervin Bullock, Pal Craftaid’s marketing committee chair.

The fabric Tee-shirts are fully fair trade and produced by artisans who in relationship to the Bethlehem Arab Women’s Union (BAWU).

The BAWU has a long and history as a non-profit charitable organization and cultural society. In operation since 1947, it has the dual task of preserving Palestinian traditional arts, and, securing work that enables women to support their families and children.

When it was conceived, one of the original goals was to provide work for women that could be done at-home, a principal that is still observed. The artisans deliver finished products to the BAWU, which sits in the city center.

Pal Craftaid will offer the Tee’s at sales only since sizing varies widely.

Boost Pal Craftaid appeal for YWCA

YWCA Pastries

Each year, Pal Craftaid conducts an appeal to support ministries in Palestine that empower the lives of individuals through education, job training, healthcare for community life.

Funds from this year’s appeal will go to the YWCA in Palestine which operates on the principle: Keep Hope Alive.

No organization is more dedicated to non-violence and to improving the lives of the Palestinian people than the YWCAs, which conduct programs in East Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and Jericho. These programs empower women by teaching them to operate businesses, such as food production, to educating children in the refugee compounds, and to keeping their heritage alive by creating traditional embroidery products that represent the cultures of destroyed Palestinian villages. The YWCAs are deeply committed to upholding the human rights and dignity of each person.

Take Hanan Ammash as an example.

Hanan is 43-year-old and once lived in a one-room-home – without windows or doors — in the Aqbet Jaber Refugee Camp with her husband and six children. She began attending the Women’s Center at the refugee camp and met other women who share her reality – especially poor housing and lack of money. She began taking courses in food processing and financial management, as well as participating in sessions that deal with women’s rights, lobbying and advocacy, project management and proposal writing.

Since then, she been directing work at the Center kitchen that has produced pastries and healthy foods for the cafeteria of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) schools. Now, the kitchen has been converted into a food processing unit which caters events. She also operates her own pickled eggplant business and is registered with the Ministry of the Economy, which enables her to grow and expand production in the future.

Hanan says herself: “I’m courageous now. I can talk in front of a big crowd. I feel productive now. In the past, I didn’t feel distinguished. Now I do.”

The outcomes for her life are astounding.

Her home is repaired and she is planning an expansion. She paid for her daughter’s college education – and now she is planning her daughter’s wedding. What’s more, she has applied to be the sweets and pastry trainer for another project.

The YWCA considers Hanan one of its success stories, as she is a breadwinner for her family and a leader in the camp community.

As you may imagine, keeping hope alive is a difficult goal. The effects of the occupation on East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza result in severe restrictions for the lives of ordinary Palestinians. Yet, most Palestinians continue to seek non-violent solutions to this tense situation. The YWCA focuses on the society, and, also offers sessions for families to work toward reconciliation at home.

Please partner with us by contributing to our annual fundraising effort to support this good work. Tax-deductible contributions may be sent to: Pal Craftaid, 3520 North 30th St., Tacoma, WA 98407.

Christmas nativities still in stock

Bell shaped nativity

Although Christmas is still days away, most of the orders for nativities, ornaments and religious sculptures are packed up, mailed and shipped off to customers who are waiting to gift others with these keepsakes.

Pal Craftaid still has some nativities in stock that can arrive at your door before Christmas – if you are still searching for the perfect creche.

Rami Giacaman says that Bethlehem woodcarvers typically incorporate figures into the manger scenes that are familiar in the Christmas story.

But they get inventive, too. It isn’t unusual, he says, to augment the creches with common Christmas symbols. Hence, some of the nativities – featured here – are shaped like the bells that ring Christmas morning, or, incorporate a Christmas tree in the background.

A musical nativity softly plays, “Silent Night.”

No matter how big or how small, each nativity is carefully made.

“It takes hours,” says Giacaman, adding bigger pieces take more hours still. “There are many, many steps.”

#218, 6 1/4 inches 1-piece nativity with animals $28.00
Nativity with animals
Musical Nativity
Musical Nativity

Bell shaped nativity
#215, 7 inches
1-piece nativity with bell
216 & 217
Tree Shape Nativity

There is each character. The frame of the nativity itself.  The base. Symbols that distinguish each one – a star, a palm tree, a donkey. Each piece is cut, sanded, glued into place – and then shipped as a Christmas keepsake all over the world.

So, with the shipments done, woodworkers are out of the holiday rush – and are working to stockpile pieces for the next season – so that the shop, Il Bambino on Manger Square, is always ready for the next customer.

Ideas for End of Summer Gifts

Holding Heart

The end of summer is fast approaching and fall is on the way.

The close of summer always means goodbyes – to go back to school, a new job, off to college, or the end of summer jobs wherever they may be.

Pal Craftaid is offering creative little friendship gifts to help say goodbye. These gifts simply say, “Remember me. And I will be thinking of you, friend.”

These items are available now:

Friendship Bracelet


Beautiful designs are stitched into these tiny wrist bands. Made in Gaza City by collectives of women, the vivid colors look great and can serve as a friendship bracelet. These can be shipped quickly to your door.

Holding Hearts

Holding Heart

If students in the family are heading off to college – or away for that first job – consider sending a holding heart along just to remind them of home. The grain in each heart is different, so each piece is one of a kind.

Peace Plaque

Peace Plaque

Nothing soothes a big transition like a dose of peace. The plaques – made in Bethlehem – offer a timeless message of faith and of hope. These can be simple reminders of what matters when life weighs heavily on us.



Simple and inexpensive, these gorgeous hand-stitched bookmarks are ordinary reminders that say: “I am thinking of you.” Perfect for the student in your life, or, for your friends who are avid readers.

Pal Craftaid Welcomes New Board Members

Two new members have joined the Pal Craftaid Board.

Kim Jenny Y.Jul2015. GDM5426web (00000004)Jenny Y. Kim of Oakland, CA, brings her experience as a mediator and as an attorney to the board; while the Rev. Madison VanVeelen brings a global perspective and a theological background to the work of Pal Craftaid.

Board President Carol Hylkema said, “The Board of Pal Craftaid is very pleased to welcome Jenny Y. Kim and Madison VanVeelen to the board. They bring an energy and enthusiasm for interpreting the stories of the artisans and artisan groups with whom we work, as well as the partner organizations to whom we send funds from our sales and special fund-raising efforts.

“Pal Craftaid has a very special mission in selling fairly traded Palestinian needlework and olive wood sculptures while interpreting the realities of life in Israel-Palestine. I look forward to working with them both.”

A lifetime Presbyterian, Jenny practices in the area of federal Indian and tribal law and also mediates regularly in several court-approved programs in the Alameda County Superior Court.

For the past four years, she has served on the Partnership Working Group of San Francisco Presbytery, working to help churches carry out their mission work and providing small grants to the peacemaking and hunger work of local congregations. She is a member of Park Boulevard Presbyterian Church in Oakland.

“I am interested in serving with Pal Craftaid because it is a non-profit organization which has successfully partnered with Palestinian artisans to help them earn a meaningful livelihood,” said Jenny. “And, in the process, the organization supports community-based economic development and self-determination.”

A graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, Jenny lived in Jerusalem for a semester abroad to study the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. After graduating law school in 1997, and before going into private practice, she worked as a public interest lawyer for a California non-profit serving California Indians and tribes.

Jenny was a delegate to the 2001 United Nations Conference on Racism in South Africa, representing the Presbyterian Peacemaking Program. In 2004, she was recognized by the Coalition of the Minority Bar Associations and the Korean American Bar Association of the San Francisco Bay Area for outstanding service to the legal community.

VanVeelen headshotThe Rev. Madison VanVeelen is a graduate of the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Madison said that she has “a deep and enduring interest in beauty, brokenness and the diversity of God’s world.”

Madison serves a church in Indianapolis, IN, where she lives with her husband, Eric, and their dog, Kiba. She grew up in Ocala, FL, and obtained her undergraduate degree from The Florida State University. She studied abroad in both Panama and China.

She described the most formative experiences in her life as those involving travel, service, or, a combination of the two. Madison was a Young Adult Volunteer – a service program of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) – in Kerala, India.

Madison also traveled to Palestine to help in the fall olive harvest. Having witnessed  the injustice of the occupation firsthand, she believes that Pal Craftaid’s work is “vitally important as it contributes to the livelihood of Palestinian artisans and their families, as well as supporting the good work of schools and organizations caring for and equipping some of the most vulnerable in Palestinian society.”

Pal Craftaid currently has a nine-member board and has contributed more than $1 million dollars to Palestinian artisans and church organizations since its inception through product sales, the acquisition of grants and through the contributions of donors.

Pal Craftaid Introduces New Jewelry Line

New Mother of Pearl Jewelry Line


If you are looking for a simple gift, a nice surprise for Easter morning, or, a collectible from the Holy Land, these earrings may be just what you seek.

Produced by Palestinian artisans in the Bethlehem region, these keepsakes are both lovely accessories, and, symbols of peace.

Check out Pal Craftaid’s newest line of products as we partner with jewelry artisans offering the region’s Mother of Pearl trademark pieces and other items.