(History of the Nazareth Rotary Club through the past presidents collected by P.D.G. Yusef Srouji)
Before I start relating the story and history of Rotary in Nazareth, I would like to mention in few words the objects and aims of Rotary and who are the Rotarian’s.
Rotary is an International Organization that consists of business men and women and professionals whose aims are service to humanity, development of high ethical standards in business and professions and the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace in the world.
In the world today there are one million two hundred twenty two thousand members in thirty thousand five hundred clubs in one hundred sixty eight countries.
In Nazareth, as is mentioned in Dr. Michel Shammas handwriting, the idea of forming a Rotary Club
started in 1951 when Jerusalem and Haifa clubs, each contacted different people to establish a club in
town, however, later all united and a club started its activities early in 1952.
During the last fifty two years of Rotary in Nazareth there were several activities and projects that were common to all presidents during all the years.
Group Study Exchange: this includes small groups of professionals that were sent by various districts to stay for six weeks to study and learn the habits and ways of their colleagues here in Israel. At the same time small groups (none Rotarian’s) left from Israel to reciprocate the visits to other districts.
Youth Exchange: This is hosting groups of young people from different parts of the world and at the same time sending groups from Israel to spend two weeks abroad living with Rotarian families. This and the above projects were intended to let young people meet, know each other and become friends. They learn to become independent, a fact that will help them in their future. Besides, they learn about cultures of other people in other parts of the world, thus widening their scope of knowledge and experience.
Encouraging visits between Nazareth Club and the other clubs in the district to enhance better understanding between the different communities of the District.
During the first 25 years the tradition was to donate scholarships to high school and university students but this program was stopped in the seventies and instead started donating to schools and other institutions that were involved with Education, Welfare, Health and Humanities.
Social Gatherings and outings were made once or twice a year to have members meet and know each other better so that they could work in a group to help and serve their communities. These activities were planned, encouraged and performed during every year and almost by all presidents.
Last but not least, the help and service to others, specially where health was concerned donating to Hospitals, helping sick people who could not afford expensive operations abroad.
Donate to institutions that deal with humanitarian services to young and old people and encourage and donate to educational and cultural institutions in town.
Once or twice a month distinguished guest speakers, scientists, doctors, lawyers, politicians and others give lectures on various subjects, and in many cases these meetings are opened to the public.
The First Steps
The conception of the idea of a rotary club in Nazareth is due to the late Dr.Mounir Mishalany of the Haifa Club. In 1951 he recommended the idea to Baz Kawar and Dr.Michel A. Shammas, and later invited them to attend a general meeting of the Haifa club. Subsequently these two, much impressed by what they had seen and heard and deeply moved by the spirit of Rotary, set about working out an initial classification list and talking to leading citizens of the town about the idea of forming a Rotary Club in Nazareth.