Known locally as Hamilat Al-Tieb, the Arab Orthodox Society (AOS) is one of the oldest women’s charitable societies in Palestine, established in 1926. The Society administers a medical center in Jerusalem’s Old City which includes 12 specializations, from dermatology to neurology to geriatric nursing. The space was donated for the facility by the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate. The center opened in 1979 when the Israeli authorities closed a government-run hospital in Jerusalem.
In addition, the Society operates the Melia Art and Crafts Center, which began in 1992. (Link to artisans’ section, Caspar). Individuals get ongoing skills training there in wood crafts, jewelry, mosaics and embroidery – with a strong emphasis on empowering women. Another training program for unemployed youth – male and female – is about to begin in ceramics.
Preservation of Palestinian culture and heritage is key to the AOS legacy. It operates a museum inside the Jaffa Gate of the Old City, showcasing life in Jerusalem in the 18-19th centuries, as well as the early 20th Century. It is called the WUJOUD Cultural Center and Museum. The Bint Al-Balad deli began in 1992, offering pies and pastries and other unique Palestinian treats. AOS also operates the Family-to-Family Sponsorship and Development Program to help sustain less-advantaged families in Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories. These programs include health, education, skills training and humanitarian assistance.