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    Atlanta church uses Mid East festival as fundraiser for Gaza

    St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church is holding its first Mid East festival since 2019 to help victims in the Gaza region.

    ATLANTA — St. Elias Antiochian Orthodox Church in Atlanta is on a mission to turn pain into purpose with their annual Mid East festival.

    “We have parishioners who are from Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Ethiopia. They bring their cultural and religious history with them,” said parishioner Brent Bandy.

    That’s why St. Elias has been holding a Mid East festival for the last four decades to highlight all of the wonderful tastes, smells and overall cultural of the region for the rest of the community to enjoy.

    But this is the first time this festival has taken place since 2019 — partially because of the COVID pandemic.

    “Our plan was to have it in 2020 and of course we had to cancel due to COVID. Of course the year after COVID we actually had our 100 year anniversary of this parish being in the community,” Bandy said.

    The thing is when the conflict started in the Gaza region — there was concern about holding the festival, but church leaders decided to use the event as a fundraiser to help people caught up in the crossfire.

    “We’re gonna take all the proceeds from today and give it to the needed charities over in the Palestinian and Israeli areas,” said parishioner Mark Mann.

    The festival features food from the Middle East, church tours, dancing and fun for the kids which this group of little ones say they are enjoying.

    “My favorite part about this festival is seeing everybody come her for Israel. Its really nice,” 11-year-old Mackenzie Najour said.

    After two weeks of war, 20 trucks entered the Gaza Strip on Saturday bringing a small lifeline to the 2 million Palestinians trapped there.


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