Palestinian Heritage Foundation
Hanan and Farah Munayyer
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation is a cultural
and educational organization aimed at promoting awareness and
understanding of Arab and, specifically, Palestinian culture and
traditions. These aims have
been pursued through programs that deepen the
pride of Arab-Americans in their heritage, namely, lectures, live costume
shows and exhibits in the United States, Canada and Palestine, and
introduce the general American public to this Arab heritage.
Wedding scene at the Brooklyn Museum during Mahrajan Al Fan.
Our activities commenced in April 1987, with the
acquisition of a large collection of Palestinian costumes and jewelry. In
1990, we acquired a unique collection owned by the late Rolla Foley,
an American Quaker
who was in Palestine in 1938 as a teacher at the Friends School in
Ramallah. Foley’s collection, purchased from Mrs. Ulla Foley included
a large number of quality items of Palestinian and
some date back to 1850.
these incredible art pieces and the research material Hanan had gathered
1990, we produced a video documentary “Palestinian
Costumes and Embroidery: A Precious Legacy”, explaining the
origin and history of the art of
embroidery in Palestine
and the Near
East, now widely used in schools, universities, public libraries and other
at National Cathedral.
In 1992, we established the Palestinian Heritage
Foundation. The PHF owns a small collection, thanks to the generous
donations by the late Miriam Ross of Virginia, Sandra Shatila of Montreal,
Dr. and Mrs. Freedman, Mrs. Margaret Carr and Mrs. Robert Munn of
California, Dr. Elise Crossby of Wyoming, Mrs. Elizabeth FitzHugh, Mrs. Carol Sutherland, Mrs. Sheridan
Collins, and Mrs. Helen
Gillard of Washington DC.
The Palestinian Heritage Foundation is a nonprofit,
tax-exempt organization, aided by an Advisory Board composed of dedicated
and talented personalities in the intellectual, cultural and artistic
Commitment to a Glorious Arab Civilization
acquaint the American public with Arab culture and art, the Palestinian
Heritage Foundation presented major exhibitions at the Mingei Museum of
Folk Art in La Jolla, San Diego, California, the Fuller Museum of Art near
Boston, special exhibits at Leehman Hall, Harvard University, the United
Nations in New York, and a display designed for public libraries that
toured New Jersey for over two years. Live shows were presented at the
United Nations, The Arab World Festival in Michigan, Dar El Tifl in Los
Angeles, The Ramallah Federation of Palestine National Convention in
Jacksonville, Florida, the Canadian Palestinian Cultural Foundation in
Canada, The Hermitage Museum in Ho Ho Kus, New Jersey, the Rockland
Historical Society, New York State, The Washington National Cathedral, The
Jerusalem Fund and The Textile Museum in Washington DC, International
Friendship Festival, Los Angeles, The West Point Military Academy, and The
Brooklyn Children Museum, New York.
For three consecutive years, the
Foundation participated in Mahrajan-Al-Fan at the Brooklyn Museum in New
York. At present the Foundation is participating in a unique and exclusive
exhibition, Community of Many Worlds: American-Arabs in New
For the past fifteen years, Hanan Munayyer has
researched Middle Eastern textiles and embroidery and has given lectures
at museums, universities, cultural societies, schools, and at the West
Point Military Academy in New York.
1998, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation was awarded the Cultural and
Heritage Award by the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee at the
Awards banquet of the 15th Annual National Convention in
Crystal City, Virginia.
Foundation’s activities have been covered by many newspapers around the
world including AL AHRAM International, the London based AL HAYAT daily,
AL SUNNARA of Nazareth, The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, AL
HAKIM Quarterly of the National Arab American Medical Association, and the
California based BEIRUT TIMES. Moreover the Foundation has been featured
in television and radio broadcasts on ANA Television of Washington, DC,
ART Television and Dubai Television of the United Arab Emirates.
Display at Cedar Grove Synagogue, NJ
March/April issue of ARAMCO WORLD, a highly respected cultural
publication, featured the Palestinian Heritage Foundation as part of an 11
page two articles “These Stitches Speak” by Jane Friedman, CNN Middle
East correspondent, and “New Images, New Patterns: A Historical
Glimpse” by Hanan Munayyer.
April 3, 1999, the Foundation honored Dr. Edward Said at a special dinner
banquet celebrating the 12th Anniversary of PHF that was
attended by over 450 prominent Arab Americans from across the United
States including diplomats from Washington, New York and Lebanon. The
guest speaker that evening was His Eminence Metropolitan Philip of the
Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.
28, 2002, the Foundation celebrated its 15th anniversary by
holding a stunning banquet and costume show. On this occasion, PHF honored
distinguished historian Dr. Walid Khalidi of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and
Dr. Joseph Qutub, President of Arab Student Aid International of New
Jersey. The evening was attended by over than 300 friends of the
Palestinian Heritage Foundation.
Sunday, May 5, 2002, the Palestinian Heritage Foundation participated in
an all Arab Costume show at the prestigious Canadian Cultural Center,
Place Des Art in Montreal representing both Syria and Palestine.
Arab-American men and women who took part in the shows developed a genuine
pride in their heritage. They came to view these costumes not as pieces of
clothing, but as pieces of history. More
importantly, people who had never
before seen artistic or cultural material from the Arab World walked away
from the exhibits with a great appreciation for the intricacy and beauty
of the traditional costumes and respect for the people who created them.
women who created these dresses probably did not consider their
embroidered “script” to be anything more than village tradition. How
proud they would be to know that theirs is the language by which
Palestinian and Arab culture is being defined to the public and to our
time one sees the glimmer of pride in a
Palestinian child’s eyes, or
feel the excitement of an American audience upon viewing and discussing
this little-known aspect of art history, we know that we are one step
further on a long and arduous, but immensely rewarding road.
Hanan Karaman Munayyer and Farah Joseph Munayyer of West Caldwell, New Jersey, are Palestinian
American scientists, who immigrated to the United States in 1970 from
Haifa and Lydda, Palestine. Since then, both have been working in