This speech was delivered at the inauguration ceremony of the new location of Marjeyoun Club of Brazil

Jdeidet Marjeyoun: the new town of the plain of springs.

By Zahi Kaissar Rached
zrached@terra.com.br

The name comes from the large number (54) of springs in and around town. Speaking of Jdeida or Marjeyoun, I’ll be actually speaking about cities that were born and grew in the last thousand years in our region of the Middle East.
Originally there was a village named Tell Dibeen (Hill of Dibeen) in this region. The ruins of that period are still under the fig trees in the area.
About 500 years ago, two Sunni Muslim families lived in Jdeida; they came from Damascus, and also Christian families who immigrated from the north of Syria. Some of these families have fled their homes because of persecution by the Ottomans.

The third movement to populate the area happened about 400 years, with Christian tribes migrating from southern Syria. The story begins with these people started about 2000 years when the famous Dam of Maareb of Yemen collapsed. The surrounding inhabitants left in search of fertile land and a part of them settled in Iraq, another part in southern Syria and in the region where Jordan is today, they were of the tribes of Beni Ghassan.
Until about 700 years ago, their descendants still ruled these regions.

In 570 A.D. Prophet Muhammad was born. With conflicts between the new religion and the Romans, the ruler of that time Abdelrahaman advised and helped Khaled Ibn El Walid who defeated the Roman army, winning the first victory of Islam against the Romans.

When Prophet Muhammad knew about Abdelrahaman, he ordered that he and his descendants be Honored. So the name of these tribes was changed to Ozeizat (Preferred).

The order of Prophet Mohammed was documented in four items:
• Honor Abdelrahman and his descendants
• Exempt them from taxes
• Restrict El Karak and its surroundings for them.
• Refrain from divorce in their presence or their descendants.

This order was honored by Arab rulers for over 1300 years until the Ottoman Empire settled in the region and made them go away for another migratory movement. Part of them stayed in Jordan and Palestine and others moved to Lebanon and settled in Marjeyoun and other regions of Lebanon.
These people became known as Hawarna because of the location of Horan in southern Syria. Example of their descendants the families of Abla, Farhoud, Gebara, Gholmia, Hamra, Rached, Samara and others.
Immigrants from the north, are known as Baladie because they came from Baldat (cities or towns), like the families Abu-Kasm, Ghoutani, Massad, Shadid, Tayar..... .
Even today it is easy to distinguish the origin of each family by the accent. Our famous curd and Laban is Labana for the Hawarna and labani for the baladie. Kibba, Kibbi, taboula, tabouli, and so on…

The three groups that migrated to the region over the centuries had little interest in farming and devoted themselves to trade. And they had great success. Amid hundreds of years of intermittent conflict practiced trade with Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, Jordan and Egypt.

Bought farms, built houses and mansions, set up looms and dyeing systems and exported their products and others across the country. And imported honey, butter and hair of animals for their productions.

The great migrations of Marjeyounis to the world had their causes, each in its own time.
The main reasons were:
• The Turkish-Ottoman Empire.
• Conflicts with advancing of the Druze of Syria, especially in 1860, where the situation was calmed by the French navy.
• The fall of the Turkish regime in World War I and the consequent division of the Middle East between France and England.
• And the closing of borders after the disastrous communication investiture of Israel in Palestine.
Marjeyoun and science: Marjeyounis have always been passionate about study and knowledge. The last illiterate elderly de Jdeida died about 140 years ago.
In 1850 the first school was founded by the Orthodox Church. In 1867 another school was established by an American mission. Then two more schools were set up by Catholic clergy. Always at the forefront in relation to other towns of Lebanon and the Middle East and receiving many students from across the region.
My aunt, Wadia Hazar, who later came to live in Brazil, completed her studies in the 1890s in Sidon, 50km from Jdeida in an Anglican school, visiting her family only once or twice a year, coming and going on the back of a mule.
This thirst for knowledge has led schools to extend their teaching from elementary to intermediate. Many continued their studies at universities in Beirut and abroad, mainly in the United States.
The joint effort of Fadlo Hourani, a renowned Marjeyouni in England, and the Union of Orthodox and Anglican Churches brought to life the Marjeyoyn National School.
Even after the separation of the churches the school continued to operate on the premises of Orthodox Diocese until the son of Fadlo, international political consultant, Dr. Cecil Hourani in the years 1956 - 1959, managed a land donations from families of Shaker El Khoury and others, the Ford Motor Company and the U.S. government for the construction of the new premises of the Marjeyoun National College with 11 buildings to house classes from Kindergarten to high school and dormitories. Last year, 2010, another member of this family dedicated, engineer Amal Issa Hourani built on his own, a great sporting and social activities centre by the college.
In 1909, the first newspaper in South Lebanon: Sahifat almarj - The Journal of the plain, was published in Marjeyoun by Dr.Assad Diab Rahal and in 1921 Annahda Al Marjeyounia club was established and the Annahda Newspaper (the Renaissance), Fadeel Wehbe and Kaisser Rached, my father as editors.
Then came the newspapers: Al Kalam Assarih (The honest pen) by Alfred Abu Samra, Sada Aljanoub (the Eco of the South), by Radi Dakhil, and the famous magazine (The Plain) by Dr. Adib Assad Diab Rahal.
In 1960 the corner stone of Marjeyoun hospital was placed with the presence of Dr. Michael Ibrahim Shadid who helped financing it by the U.S. emigrants on a piece of land donated by the Abou Zulof family .
The first hospital in Jdeida was established and maintained by Dr. Kamel Jabour and Dr. Halim Barakat in the year 1928. Now, with the internet age, we have site Marjeyoun (www.marjeyoun.net) created and maintained by Hashem Hashem and his son Julio of Canada. This site receives and sends information on the worldwide web about Marjeyoun and the other thirty one towns and villages of the region to people Lebanon and all over the world. A new website was launched a few weeks ago talking about life, history, daily life and beauty of this wonderful town.
In 1952, Marjeyoun (five years before Lebanon) shone with electricity; generators were donated by immigrants in the United States.

Ladies and Gentlemen:
The Immigrants from Marjeyoun are in every part of this planet. The first Marjeyouni to visit China and Japan was Abdalla Hanna Mansour Salameh who lived in Australia between the years 1892 to 1901.
Of the first emigrants to Brazil were Markus Rahal & Saiid Abou Zulof. From the far north of Canada, through all the Americas, Africa, Europe and Australia, including of course Brazil, there are people from this great and famous Jdeidet Marjeyoun who never had a population over 7000 inhabitants.

After the civil war between 1975 and 1990, Jdeida returned to a city school. Marjeyoun, which shrunk in Lebanon, grew worldwide. To illustrate this migration, I will talk about what I know most, about the Rashid family: The members of the Rashid and their blood relatives are over 2000 in the United States of America alone. The Eighty-third family reunion was held in 2011 in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Here in Brazil we have over 600 descendants. There are other families smaller and greater with their clubs.

With more than 40,000 souls in the world dare to compare Marjeyoun to the Phoenix, mythical bird that always rises from the ashes stronger and more beautiful.
Amid all this rich history and descendants of these numbers, we are here in Sao Paulo, striving for the Marjeyoun Club of Brazil stay alive and active.
A club that is for one of the most famous towns in Lebanon which craves for education. That said, I would like to draw the attention of those who know the stories about their cities and towns, tell them to your children and I'm sure that this will increase their love for their origins and the past of their relatives.
Thank you.