A Place to Call Home

text and photos by Benedict Evans

At the corner of 80th Street and 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge is an old stone church building shared by Our Saviour’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, which occupies the larger hall downstairs, and, upstairs, the Salam Arabic Lutheran Church, where services are given in Arabic. The latter’s congregation comprises Arab Christians who have relocated to Brooklyn to escape economic hardship, persecution, or conflict. They come from Palestine and Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. These are the faces of these first-generation immigrants, and the faces of their children.

Subscribe

$2 monthly or $20 for one year

BKLYNR’s a subscription-based site, but we let non-subscribers read one article per month for free. To make sure you can read as much as you’d like, subscribe today.

We’re a small, independent organization supported by subscriptions, which allow us to pay the writers, photographers, and other journalists whose work we publish.

Born and raised in Syria, this man moved to Brooklyn last year after his 20-year-old son was shot and killed by members of Al-Qaeda on the street near his home. He agreed to be photographed on the condition that neither his nor his son’s name were published for fear of reprisals upon relatives back home. He identifies as Muslim, but believes that a church or a mosque is a place for people of all faiths.

Born and raised in Syria, this man moved to Brooklyn last year after his 20-year-old son was shot and killed by members of Al-Qaeda on the street near his home. He agreed to be photographed on the condition that neither his nor his son’s name were published for fear of reprisals upon relatives back home. He identifies as Muslim, but believes that a church or a mosque is a place for people of all faiths.

Grace El-Yateem

Grace arrived in New York in 1984 to attend college and has spent most of her time here ever since. While visiting Palestine on a medical mission with the church, she met the church’s pastor, Khader, whom she later married. She is now a nurse who works both in public schools and at Brooklyn’s Guild For Exceptional Children.

Grace El-Yateem

Grace arrived in New York in 1984 to attend college and has spent most of her time here ever since. While visiting Palestine on a medical mission with the church, she met the church’s pastor, Khader, whom she later married. She is now a nurse who works both in public schools and at Brooklyn’s Guild For Exceptional Children.

Naim El-Yateem (Sr.)

Naim is the pastor’s father. He lives both here and in Beit Jala, Palestine, where he tends to his olive trees and orchard. Has been a citizen of the US for nine years now. He spends more of his time here to be near his son.

Naim El-Yateem (Sr.)

Naim is the pastor’s father. He lives both here and in Beit Jala, Palestine, where he tends to his olive trees and orchard. Has been a citizen of the US for nine years now. He spends more of his time here to be near his son.

Louran Ishack

Louran grew up in Brooklyn; her Palestinian father and her Syrian mother moved here a little over 20 years ago.

Louran Ishack

Louran grew up in Brooklyn; her Palestinian father and her Syrian mother moved here a little over 20 years ago.

Khader El-Yateem

Khader is the church’s charismatic pastor. He moved from his native Palestine to serve the community of Christian Arabs in Brooklyn, arriving in 1992 and founding the Arab Lutheran Church in 1995.

Khader El-Yateem

Khader is the church’s charismatic pastor. He moved from his native Palestine to serve the community of Christian Arabs in Brooklyn, arriving in 1992 and founding the Arab Lutheran Church in 1995.

Shatha Yamooer

Shatha had lived her entire life in her home country of Iraq until she moved to Brooklyn two years ago to escape the devastation caused by the recent war. She says she’d like very much to go back there, but doubts it will ever be possible as things only seem to be deteriorating.

Shatha Yamooer

Shatha had lived her entire life in her home country of Iraq until she moved to Brooklyn two years ago to escape the devastation caused by the recent war. She says she’d like very much to go back there, but doubts it will ever be possible as things only seem to be deteriorating.

Janette El-Yateem

Janette is the pastor’s mother and the wife of Naim Sr. She travels to Palestine with her husband, but spends most of her time here, where she is actively involved in and committed to church life.

Janette El-Yateem

Janette is the pastor’s mother and the wife of Naim Sr. She travels to Palestine with her husband, but spends most of her time here, where she is actively involved in and committed to church life.

Areej El-Yateem

Areej is the pastor’s niece. Like him, she is from Palestine and grew up in Bethlehem, moving to Brooklyn when she was fourteen. Her parents came here to escape conflict in Palestine, with the hope of a better standard of living in Brooklyn.

Areej El-Yateem

Areej is the pastor’s niece. Like him, she is from Palestine and grew up in Bethlehem, moving to Brooklyn when she was fourteen. Her parents came here to escape conflict in Palestine, with the hope of a better standard of living in Brooklyn.

Maha Allawl

Maha was born in Jordan, although her family are originally Palestinian. She came here with her Lebanese husband who had fled Lebanon because of the war, looking for a better education and with it, a better future than the one she felt she would have at home. She currently works at the Lutheran Hospital in Bay Ridge.

Maha Allawl

Maha was born in Jordan, although her family are originally Palestinian. She came here with her Lebanese husband who had fled Lebanon because of the war, looking for a better education and with it, a better future than the one she felt she would have at home. She currently works at the Lutheran Hospital in Bay Ridge.

Naim El-Yateem (Jr.)

Naim is one of Grace and Khader’s four sons. (They also have two daughters). He is Palestinian, but moved to Brooklyn as a child with his parents, and is now a freshman at Brooklyn Tech. He hopes to become a doctor.

Naim El-Yateem (Jr.)

Naim is one of Grace and Khader’s four sons. (They also have two daughters). He is Palestinian, but moved to Brooklyn as a child with his parents, and is now a freshman at Brooklyn Tech. He hopes to become a doctor.

Benedict Evans is a freelance photographer based in Bed-Stuy.

Also in this issue

Rites of Spring

Warm weather’s finally here. Which New Yorkers are in the best position to take advantage? Maps by Thomas Rhiel

The Globetrotter

From Accra to Atlantic Avenue, Blitz the Ambassador spreads his musical gospel. By Tamerra Griffin