March General Assembly Meeting

Come enjoy a spaghetti dinner on March 5 at our General Assembly meeting.

Dinner will be available for sale at 5pm.
Meeting begins @ 6pm
Youth group will be meeting @ 5:30.

Missed the Membership Dinner or forgot to pay your dues? Be sure to find Sandy at the meeting and she can accept your cash or check of $110.

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Save the Date: 2017 Membership Dinner & Installation

Join the 2017 Ramallah Club Officers and Board of Directors for our annual Membership Dinner & Installation, February 11. 2017 at 6pm.

Membership dues of $100 and youth dues of $20 will be collected at the door. Dues will be $110 after February 11. Please fill out and bring your membership renewal form. Click here to download/print your form.

Please help us plan ahead and RSVP below:

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Obituary: Zohair Nimer Mardini

Zohair Nimer Mardini
July 6, 1929 – December 6, 2016

Zohair Nimer Mardini was born July 6, 1929 in Irbid, Jordan and peacefully left this earth on December 6, 2016. After finishing high school, he attended the American University in Beirut where he received a degree in Journalism and Communications.  After college, Zohair fulfilled his duty in the Royal Jordanian Army. While serving his country, his heroism caught the attention of his superiors and he received an appointment as a diplomatic official and customs attaché. This position later led to an administrative position in the ministry of the interior working side-by-side with King Hussein of Jordan which later led to continued invitations to an audience with his majesty during his visits to the United States. This led him to our beloved city of Ramallah where he married and continued his duties to the King.

In 1965 he moved with his family to Jacksonville, Florida. In 1976 he started Hala imported foods and soon established himself as a successful businessman and realized the American dream of owning a business that is now a local institution. Over the years his business became a staple of local cuisine and made Middle Eastern food popular in the city. Zohair was most dedicated to his wife, daughters and his entire family. He lived life as a generous and kind man, helping many over the years and enjoying the company of those around him. His extended family knew him as a father figure or Sido to all. Zohair was preceded in death by his wife, May Cadoura Mardini. He is survived by his daughters: Hanada Owais (Asad), Howaida Mousa (Jimmy), Hanya Farah (Jim) and Hala Salman (Waddah), ten grandchildren, two great-grandchildren.

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Obituary: Ramzi Abraham Bateh

Ramzi Abraham Bateh
January 1, 1933 – October 23, 2016

Ramzi Abraham Bateh, beloved husband, father, Jido, and Sedo, was born on January 1, 1933, in Ramallah, Palestine, to the late Abraham Shihadeh Bateh and Julia Abraham Bateh.  He immigrated to the United States on July 17, 1950 at the age of 17. He was always proud of his heritage and was equally proud to celebrate 66 years of residency and citizenship in America.  Ramzi was a fixture in the Jacksonville business community as a successful entrepreneur and independent business owner. He was very well-respected, admired, and loved by all.  He enjoyed active involvement in his community as a founding and devoted member of The Ramallah Club of Jacksonville and a founding member and faithful parishioner of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church.

Ramzi’s name was synonymous with love, compassion, perseverance, courage, hardwork, sacrifice, honesty, faith, and dedication.  Ramzi and his beloved wife of 59 years, Salwa, built a beautiful life and family together. Blessed with 5 children and 8 grandchildren, their wealth was in love and family.  Ramzi was a wonderful father, grandfather and father-figure. He provided for and supported not only his family but many others.  He truly valued the importance of family and passed that on to his loved ones.  He was the rock of the family, a selfless man, full of wisdom and character. He valued education and disseminated his knowledge at every opportunity in an effort to teach and mentor those around him.  He had a bright and beautiful spirit, always smiling and laughing. He loved music, singing and dancing. In a crowd full of people, his infectious personality and smile would illuminate the room. He made everyone around him feel so loved and took a keen, sincere interest in getting to know others, never forgetting a face or a name. He captured the hearts of everyone that met him.

On October 23, 2016, Ramzi passed into Eternal Life, surrounded by his loving wife and family. He is a forever guiding light and an angel above, and has reunited with his eldest daughter, Rhonda Bateh Ridsdale, who passed on August 2, 2015. Ramzi was also pre-deceased by two brothers, Isaa Abraham Bateh and Shihadeh Abraham Bateh. Ramzi is survived by his devoted, beautiful wife of 59 years, Salwa, two sons, George Ramzi Bateh (Abeer), Charles Ramzi Bateh, and three daughters, the late Rhonda Bateh Ridsdale (Noel), Gloria Bateh Baez (William), and Sandra Lee Bateh, two sisters, Asma Mousa Bateh, all of Jacksonville, Fl. and Sumaya Ayesh Nasrah of San Francisco, Ca., eight grandchildren, Dr. Brittany Bateh, Steven K. Bateh, Ramzi Bateh, Leila Bateh, Christian Bateh, Jared Ridsdale, Hannah Baez, and Elias Baez. Memory Eternal. Forever in our hearts. Thank you to all for your love and support. May God continue to bless you.

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Obituary: Kamel Farmand

Kamel Farmand
December 6, 1933 – December 6, 2016

Born in Ramallah on December 6, 1933, heaven celebrated as Kamel came home on the day of his 83rd birthday, December 6, 2016. He was surrounded by his adoring wife of 57 years, Nuhad and his beloved children: Musa (Gina) Farmand, Maha (Hiram) Osterhoudt, Eva (Isa) Hassan, Christy (Richard) Rukab and most of his 15 grandkids.

After serving in the U.S. Army for 2 years, Kamel went back to Ramallah to marry the love of his life and then settled down in Jacksonville, Florida in 1960. He owned many successful businesses and was loved by all his patrons. He was a proud, active member of his Ramallah Club and also served as president in 1987. He was a humble, loyal and honest friend to all and a stranger to no one. He loved his friends like family. His sense of humor was definitely his most notable trait, but it was his strength and honesty that were to be admired.

Kamel lived life to the fullest traveling around the world with his wife and going back to his homeland often to spend time with his Faramand family. He loved them with all his heart. He also enjoyed the simple things in life like reading the newspaper daily, enjoying his wife’s famous cooking, attending all the special events and games for his grandkids and spending time with friends and cousins.

With no fear or regret, Kamel peacefully fell asleep in the Lord. He was preceded in death by his parents, Mousa and Helaneh, his brother Andrawas Farmand and his sisters Laila Farmand and Hilwa Tawil. He will be missed dearly by his family and the entire community. We sincerely thank all our family and friends for their overwhelming love and support. God bless you all. May his memory be eternal.

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Obituary: George Nehkleh Louh

George Nehkleh Louh
January 18, 1945 – November 5, 2016

George Nehkleh Louh 71, entered into eternal life on November 5, 2016 after battling cancer. He was born in Jaffa, Palestine on January 18, 1945 and at the age of 3, he and his family moved to Ramallah where they operated a successful electrical business. Wanting to further his education and seeking a better life, he immigrated to the United States where he met his wife, Violette (Bajalia) Louh. Together they worked tirelessly to create a better life for their family and he was able to establish a successful electrical business for over 30 years in Jacksonville, Florida. George had three guiding lights in his life, a strong faith in Christ, a devotion to family and a diligent work ethic. George not only touched the hearts of many, but rather gave an example to all men how to be an honorable man, father and husband. George was a long standing member of the Ramallah American Club of Jacksonville, the Order of St. Ignatius and St. John The Divine Greek Orthodox Church.

He is survived by his loving wife of nearly 45 years, Violette; children, Alicia (Victor) Jubran, Rev. Dr. Nicholas (Dr. Roxanne) Louh, Stephanie (Dr. Bobby) Shunnarah and Anthony (Dr. Irene) Louh; cherished grandchildren, Nathan, Madeline and Christian Jubran; George Nicholas and Gabriella Louh; Andrew and Layla Shunnarah and George Jakub Louh; brothers, Jack, Jaleel and Nabil and numerous nieces and nephews. Preceeded in death by his parents, Nehkleh and Alice (Zabaneh) Louh; brother Bishara and sister Jackleen(Mizyed). George was the backbone of our family and his legacy will always live through all of those who knew him. May his memory be forever eternal.

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Hathihe Ramallah News

Baby Girl, Sophia Rose to Steven and Ashley Salameh Aweimrin. Her proud grandparents are Fayez and Donna (Natour) Aweimrin, and Isam and Liala Salameh.

Baby Amir Andy, born to Andy Yacoub and Victoria Bishara Akel.  His proud grandparents are Yacoub Jameel and Mary Akel and Victor and Deborah Bishara

Baby Girl Zayna Rose, born to Michael and Jennifer Farhat Marzoug. Her proud grandparents are Bassam and Diana Marzoug and Omar and Janan Farhat.

Chris-Omar Michael Bateh, son of Mike Essa and Marie Bateh, married Jennifer Lyne Franklin, daughter of Donald and Anita Finch.

Christie Michelle Bateh, daughter of Johnny Musa and Donna McClung Bateh married Richard Clinton Blackburn, son of Woody and Brenda Blackburn.

Andrew Charles Sackllah, son of Charles and Nabila Sackllah of Orlando, Florida married Rachel Suheil Abuaita, daughter of Suheil and Abeer Abuaita.

Jessica Tiffany Zarou, daughter of Nader and Sylvia Farah Zarou married Dr. Scott Michael Dellorso, son of Michael and Janet Dellorso.

Club News:

On Saturday, December 3rd the Big Man himself Santa came to our Ramallah Club to have Breakfast with our little ones and to take pictures with them. Not only was a full buffet breakfast served, but also provided was Cookie Decorating, Christmas Pinecone Tree Decorating, a Photo Booth, Letters to Santa and much MORE! Approximately 120 members came to partake in the festivities. In addition, donations were collected to assist Catholic Charities as they assist Syrian Refugees in Jacksonville, Florida. Much appreciation goes out to Sandy Saad Salem for coordinating an amazing event as well as her committee who included Ramsey and Sally Salem, Katherine Shunnarah Akel and Christy Farmand Rukab.

Our club hosted a New Year’s Eve Hafla featuring Emad Batayeh and his talented band, as well as DJ Rezeq.  Brielle Behira opened the evening with a beautiful belly dancing performance to approximately 400+ attendees who also enjoyed non-stop music (Arabic and American) as well as a champagne toast at midnight.  Much appreciation and thanks goes out to the New Year’s Eve committee for an enjoyable and successful event. 

50th Anniversary:

Nasim & Munira Salameh have been married 50 years on June 5th, 2016 and were married in Ramallah in 1966. They enjoy spending time with each other and with family. They celebrated their 50th anniversary at Hammock Beach Resort in Palm Coast, Florida with their children and grandchildren.  They have 4 children -Julie, Joseph, Jeannie, & Johnny and they have 5 grandchildren-Gabriella, Bianca, Gianna, Ava, and Lillian. We are thankful for their love and support. Congratulations-We love you!

The Jacksonville Community extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the following families:

The Farmand family for the passing of Kamel Farmand.

The Mardini family for the passing of Zohair Nimer Mardini

The Hassan family for the passing of Sammy Hassan

The Baba and Danfora families for the passing of Lucille Anne Danfora Baba

The Salah family for the passing of Mrs. Leila Salah

May their memories be eternal.

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January General Assembly Meeting

January General Assembly Meeting:
Please mark your calendars and save the date for the next General Assembly meeting. It will be held January 8th at 6 pm. Please plan to attend as we have various items to discuss including the Membership and Installation dinner, which will be held on February 11.

We will also begin accepting membership dues for those who would like to pay prior to the dinner. Dues are $100 if paid prior to or on February 11.

Youth Group Meeting:
The Next youth group meeting will be held on January 8th at 5:30. Parents please continue to encourage your children to participate in meetings by bringing them to the club! We are excited to continue to have meetings in the new youth room! Have questions or comments? Please contact Christy or Kathy at or 614-9740.

Happy New Year!
Members we would like to take a moment to wish each and every one of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. Thank you for your continued support of our club and it’s events. Let’s continue our success in the New Year.

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Obituary: Layla Hiresh Habayeb

Layla Hiresh Habayeb
August 20, 1933 – September 18, 2016

My grandmother, Layla Hiresh Habayeb, passed away on September 18, 2016 in Ramallah, Palestine after a brief illness. She was 83 years old.

This past summer, my family and I traveled to Ramallah for a family wedding. Her children and most of her grandchildren were there too. I feel very fortunate to have spent time with her over the summer before she passed, and I was thinking about her life.

Most of you never met my Tata Layla. She was born in Jaffa, Palestine in 1933; part of what was British Palestine. As a teenager in 1948, Israeli soldiers evicted her from home and she and her family became refugees. Later, she married my grandfather and had four daughters and one son whom they raised in a small apartment in Ramallah. Tata ran the household, made clothes for the family and made sure her kids were taken care of. Despite the fact they were refugees, all five children graduated from college.

One night in the early 1980s, Tata and Sedo got the news no parent wants to hear – their eldest daughter, Adele, was struck by a car and killed. The pain was unbearable for both of them and three years later, my Sedo passed away from a heart attack. Tata wore black for a decade.

I remember it was rare to see her smile, and I thought to myself this world had beaten most of the laughter out of her. But even though, she never complained or stopped taking care of her family. Her mind was always sharp and she was wise and loving.

Tata leaves behind her children: Muna (Osama) Kandah, Reem (Eddie) Farah, of Jacksonville, FL; Salim (Rana) Habayeb of Ramallah, and Rana (Daoud) Elissa of Dubai as well as 14 grandchildren, a sister in Ramallah and numerous nephews, nieces and cousins.

Our family would like to thank everyone for their warm condolences and prayers.

Khalil Eddie Farah

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Hathihe Ramallah Magazine News

Baby Boy, Frank George Mackoul III was born to Frank and Amanda Salem Mackoul. His proud grandparents are Georgette Mackoul and Sam and Hanan Salem.

Baby Girl, Jada Steven was born to Steven and Angie Akel Elias. Her proud grandparents are Alfred and Nabila Elias, and Akel (Jimmy) Akel and Janan Akel.

Jessica Tiffany Zarou, daughter of Nader and Sylvia Farah Zarou married Scott Michael Dellorso, son of Michael and Janet Dellorso.

Club News:

On Thursday, September 29th, twenty ladies gathered for a Wine & Paint Ladies Night Out at Yes You Canvas. No artistic skills were required and everyone had an amazing time. Many thanks go out to our Youth Group Director Christy Farmand Rukab for coordinating the event.

Our annual Fall Picnic was held on Sunday, October 2nd. Many members attended and participated in fellowship, fun and arts and crafts. It was a huge success. Many thanks go out to Chairpersons Kara Bateh Mousa and Sandy Mousa as well as their volunteers.

Youth Group News:

On Saturday, November 12th, eleven youth group members enjoyed dinner at Johnny Angel’s Diner then ventured to the Great Escape Room. They had a blast and escaped the room in record time for the day. Many thanks go out to the Youth Group Directors, Katherine Shunnarah Akel and Christy Farmand Rukab.

The Jacksonville Community extends its deepest sympathy and condolences to the following families:

– The Farhat family for the passing of Ziadeh (John) Hanna Farhat

– The Habayeb and Farah families for the passing of Layla Hiresh Habayeb in Ramallah. Her daughter is Reem Habayeb Farah.

– The Bateh family for the passing of Ramzi Abraham Bateh

– The Louh family for the passing of George Nekhleh Louh

May their memories be eternal

Dal‘Ouna Ensemble and “Children of the Stone” US concert and Book Tour:
The Ramallah Club of Jacksonville in conjunction with Palestine Day proudly hosted the Dal‘Ouna Ensemble and “Children of the Stone” US concert and Book Tour on Friday evening September 23rd. The Jacksonville event was one of 13 stops for the ensemble in the US and the only performance in the south. Many events leading up to the night were also part of the celebration.

The US tour coincides with the paperback release of the critically acclaimed book “Children of the Stone” written by Author Sandy Tolan. The book tells the true life story of Ramzi Aburedwan, a young man who gained international fame at age 8 when a photographer snapped a picture of him in a Palestine Refugee Camp near Ramallah, preparing to throw a rock at Israeli Soldiers during the first Intifada. Ramzi‘s dream was to study music and to eventually open music schools all over Palestine. The book tells the story of how Mr. Tolan and Ramzi meet and how Ramzi pursues his dream in a very hard and driven life.

Sandy Tolan

Sandy Tolan

Prior to their performance, Mr. Tolan was featured in an article in Jacksonville’s local Newspaper, The Florida Times-Union, promoting the club’s event and highlighting his compassionate support of Palestinian rights. In addition, Mr. Tolan and Aburdewan were featured on Jacksonville’s NPR affiliate, WJCT First Coast Connect radio program with Melissa Ross.

The ensemble includes Ramzi Aburedwan, Ziad Ben Youssef, Tareq Rantisi, Edwin Buger, and vocalist Nidal Ibourk. Prior to the performance, Aburedwan, the ensemble and Tolan greeted sponsors and audience members and continued engaged throughout the night with book signings.

The evening ended with a presentation of a violin to the Dal’Ouna Ensemble as a donation to the Al Kamandjati Music Schools founded by Ramzi.

The group performed to a sold out VIP/sponsorship audience and to a near sell-out crowd of general seating. Co-Chairs Ronie Rukab and Janice Farhat would like to thank all of the volunteers who have worked tirelessly since the beginning of the year to help make this event so successful. In addition, the co- chairs would also like to thank the sponsors who generously supported this event as well all of the community who came and attended. A special note of thanks also goes out to Dr. Sam and Poppi Elias for their generous support of the event as well as their gracious hospitality in hosting the ensemble and the committee on the evening of the ensemble’s arrival to Jacksonville.

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