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Memories from old Akka
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Posted by Anthony Hanania on October 13, 2005
In 1948, Akka came under attack. My father Farid Mikhael Hanania and my mother Jeannette Amour Bahouth left Akka for Lebanon because the road to lebanon was the safest and shortest road to a safe place, Lebanon. Half of my relatives, who were safe in Haifa, remained and they are still living in The Holy Land until today. There are myriads of stories from old Akka, some are retold over and over, but others were lost forever with those who reposed in the womb of the earth. My grandmother, Renee Raji Bahouth Amour, tells me their house was located between St. Andrew Greek Melkite Catholic church and the Maronite church. Behind them was the Latin convent. When the bells of the three churches rang together, the sound of the bells was enchanting. They were close to the city walls and when the sea was rough, the waves splashed against the city walls scattering drops of water everywhere. The stormy days were exotic, spooky and romantic. Two main stories of churches remain in my memory clearly. The first church is the parish of my father, St. George Greek Orthodox church under the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and the second church is the parish of my mother, St. Andrew Greek Melkite Catholic church under the Greek Melkite Catholic Patriarchate of Antioch, Jerusalem, Alexandria and All the East. My parents and grandparents told me St. George Greek Orthodox church had five bells. The biggest bell was brought from Russia. The man who rang the bells used to hold two ropes in each hand and a rope in his foot for the big bell. When he rang the bells, they were musical and harmonious. Almost everyone was impressed by their sound. A Greek Orthodox bishop resided in Akka. My grandmother, Renee Bahouth Amour, told me the choir of St. Andrew Greek Melkite church was mostly led by the members of her family who were great byzantine cantors. In 1984, I visited Akka with my grandmother and while walking in the narrow streets of the city, we came across an old man of the Harfouche family who knew my father Farid and grew up together in the same city. My grandmother introduced me to him saying, 'Ibn Farid Hanania.' The man looked at me, embraced me and started sobbing like a child. He tried to smell the fragrance of friendship between him and my father through my shirt which carries particles of my father in me. For the first time in my life I felt bonded to a place. I felt Akka my hometown. The stones under my feet became familiar to me and the land embraced me with all the ones that treaded its ground. I couldn't hold myself. I wept on my behalf and on behalf of my father who probably wished to be with me at this moment. Akka embraced me and welcomed me back. The tears we shed moistened the soil and I really felt deep longing for my roots wishing this earth will engulf me one day. After meeting Harfouche, the friend of my father, I felt a deep change in my soul. The tears we shed baptized me and confirmed me. Akka lives in me. Akka lives in everyone who longs for the past, for the memories and for all the blessings God granted us. I thank God for my parents and my ancestors who gave me my identity.

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