Tag Archives: Nuseibeh

Two Interesting Family Business Lessons from the Holy Land…

Stephanie Brun de Pontet


Did you know that it is a Muslim family that holds the key to one of the most sacred churches in Christianity?  Further, did you know that they have been fulfilling the obligation of opening and closing this church every day for centuries:

The Nuseibeh family was first made custodians of the key when Caliph Umar Ibn Khattab first conquered Jerusalem in 638AD. The only gap in the family tradition was during the 88 years of Crusader rule in the 12th century, which ended in 1187 when Saladin recaptured Jerusalem and promised Richard the Lionheart that he would restore the Nuseibehs as the custodians of the key.

As the current generation prepares to pass this important responsibility on to his son, they represent two important lessons for all families in business.  First, sometimes the ‘best choice’ to take over an important responsibility is an individual or group that is deeply trusted and seen as free of any ‘agenda.’

His ancestors were chosen for their long service and ability to navigate the sometimes violent rivalries between the various Christian sects represented in the church. “I am the custodian of the key of the Holy Sepulchre,” said Mr Nuseibeh, 62, as worshippers made their way up the Via Dolorosa through Jerusalem’s Old City to mark Good Friday. “I see these people and I feel how important the task is, how good it is that my family has held the tradition all these years. I am proud that my family will continue to hold this honour.”

Second, teaching the value of the legacy of stewardship is incredibly powerful.  While pride is important, communicating some reverence for the responsibility and the benefits one is hopefully able to confer to others (for business owners through creating good jobs, delivering an excellent product, etc.).  As the son gets ready to assume his father’s role, he states:

This year, Mr Nuseibeh will pass the responsibility as key holder over to his son, 30-year-old Obedya Nuseibeh who works by day as a hairdresser in Jerusalem.After the Easter festival he will begin to take over responsibility for his father’s gate-keeping, arriving at the Church at 4am to open the doors, and at 8pm to lock them shut. “I’m nervous I won’t do it correctly at first, there is a lot of ritual to remember. But I’ve been watching my father do this for years, and I think I know it very well,” said Obedya. “My father advised me to stay neutral, to remember this is an important, historic role.”

Food for thought for all of us.

Full article can be read at: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/world/middleeast/article3726764.ece