Abu Gosh: A Journey of Exploration and Connection

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The Benedictine monastery at Abu Ghosh

In August, over 30 Israeli wikimedians gathered for a very special learning and connection experience. This time, our destination was Abu Gosh, a village steeped in history, located in the heart of Israel. This expedition provided an incredible opportunity to explore fascinating sites, meet inspiring people, and strengthen our bonds as Wikimedia community members.

The “Thousand Words” Initiative

The journey to Abu Gosh was not just an ordinary excursion; it was part of the “Thousand Words” Initiative. This initiative serves as the epicenter for organizing trips across Israel, tailored to meet the photography needs of Wikipedia. The primary goal? To populate Wikipedia with high-quality, free-to-use images.

Wikipedia articles may be meticulously written, filled with essential and captivating information. However, the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words holds true. An image accompanying an article allows readers to better grasp the subject matter and be captivated not only by the written content but also by what meets the eye. The vision of the “Thousand Words” Initiative is to address the need for more freely usable images. It calls upon Wikipedia contributors to embark on journeys, explore, and capture images.

Participants of the first tour of the “Thousand Words” initiative in 2007 at the “German Colony” Neighborhood – Jerusalem

Deror Lin and the Project’s Continuity

It is impossible to discuss the “Thousand Words” initiative without mentioning the pivotal role played by Wikimedia Israel board member, Deror Lin, a dedicated editor who conceived, initiated, and led the project over the years. Deror Lin left an impressive legacy, having contributed to over 8,700 articles and more than 37,000 images on Wikipedia and Wikimedia Commons. His commitment to expanding human knowledge and sharing valuable images will remain unforgettable. With his recent passing, we welcome Yoav Dotan, who asked to take on the responsibility of continuing the project  in order to preserve and continue the project that was so important to Deror. The Abu Gosh expedition marked the beginning of this new phase under Yoav Dotan’s leadership.

Deror Lin

Exploring Abu Gosh

The journey was expertly guided by Sharon Reguev, who boasts a wealth of experience in her field. Sharon had served as the head of the Department of Religions at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs for many years. Her deep knowledge and insights into the subject matter were invaluable, enriching the experience for all participants.

Some of the tour participants listen to the explanation in the church

Our first stop was the well-preserved Crusader church, where we had the privilege of meeting Abu Gosh’s head of council, Salim Jaber. Mr. Jaber warmly welcomed us and shared insights into the village’s history, including its harmonious relations with the local Jewish community. His account offered a glimpse into the region’s multicultural coexistence, setting the stage for our immersive experience.

Next on our itinerary was a meeting with Brother Olivier, a Benedictine monk from the Olivetan Order. Brother Olivier shared his fascinating life story and provided us with a deeper understanding of the monastic order to which he belongs, known as “St. Joseph of Revelation” His words resonated with our group, fostering a sense of connection and shared humanity.

From left to right: Salim Jaber, Sharon Reguev and Brother Olivier

Our journey continued to the Church of Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant, where we learned about the significance of this holy site. We explored the history of the religious order that maintains it, delving into the spiritual and historical importance of the location.

The third and final site we visited was Saxum, a visitor center run by the Catholic “Opus Dei” order. There, we had the opportunity to gain further insights into the region’s religious diversity and its role in promoting interfaith understanding.

Outside the Church of Our Lady of the Ark of the Covenant

Our excursion concluded with a delightful meal at “Abu Sa’id” restaurant, where we shared stories and reflections on our day’s discoveries. This culinary experience provided the perfect ending to a day filled with cultural enrichment and meaningful encounters.

Participants shared heartfelt testimonials about the experience. Wikipedian “Ovedc” expressed delight in the journey, emphasizing the richness of interactions and learnings. User “Elians” praised Yoav Dotan’s organization of the trip and underscored the importance of the photos taken during the expedition.

Guided tour at the Saxum Visitor Center

The “Thousand Words” initiative continues to create opportunities for Wikipedia contributors and enthusiasts to deepen their understanding of Israel’s history and culture. Through these immersive journeys, participants not only capture valuable images for Wikimedia projects but also cultivate a broader perspective on the communities that shape our diverse nation. Each trip is a testament to the power of collaboration and shared exploration, fostering connections among Wikipedians that extend beyond the digital realm.

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