From Bethlehem to Bethlehem

We visited Bethlehem, of course!  Bethlehem is only a couple hills over from our site and easily visible, but is a world away in the West Bank behind the new security wall.   We found it interesting to learn that the hotel we stay at was concerned when they learned that there would be 21 people coming from Bethlehem, PA to participate in the dig.  To many Israelis, “Bethlehem PA” means “Bethlehem, Palestinian Authority”; so, the hotel was worried about security issues and the logistics of people going through the military checkpoint with any frequency.

Like our Bethlehem PA, the Bethlehem PA here also has stars everywhere, in their case most of the stars on houses and buildings are five-pointed with tails, like comets.   We did see some Bethlehem Stars like we have at home, which are pictured below.

We visited the modern church at Shepherd’s Fields, traditional site of the the shepherds’ receiving the information that Jesus had been born, according to the Gospel of Luke.  The highlight of our trip was the ancient Church of the Nativity, traditional site of the birth of Jesus.

Shepherd's Field Church

Shepherd's Field Church

Inside the Church of the Nativity, during a Palestinian wedding

Inside the Church of the Nativity, during a Palestinian wedding.

Leslie, James, Julia, Ben, Rachel M., Rachel K., George, Tara, John and Jason inside the Chruch of the Nativity. Behind is the exit point of the small chamber below the altar where Jesus is said to have been born.

Leslie, James, Julia, Ben, Rachel M., Rachel K., George, Tara, John and Jason inside the Chruch of the Nativity. Behind is the exit point of the small chamber below the altar where Jesus is said to have been born.

More Bethlehem stars.  These and the previous picture are from the basement of the church, where Jerome is said to have translated the Bible into Latin.  Near this point Manfred, leader of the Heidelberg participants, and Deborah led a meditation service for interested students.

Some Bethlehem stars in the church.
Bethlehem stars in the basement of the church, where Jerome is said to have translated the Bible into Latin. Near this point Manfred, leader of the Heidelberg participants, and Deborah led a meditation service for interested students.
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