Day 3 – Bethlehem
After breakfast we were picked up by Jack’s wife, Tamara, and taken to Dar al- Kalima school. The school Principal, Naila, and Tony (Deputy Head) explained the ethos of this Lutheran school and how they try to engender peaceful co-existence between Christian and Muslim pupils by teaching about both faiths and having shared worship once a month.
Leaving the school we went to Manger Square where we met with Jack and his brother Nabil. We did our shopping for souvenirs at Jacks shop in Milk Grotto street before walking the 100 yards to the Milk Grotto church and Convent of the Order of Perpetual Adoration (including the Church of the Mother of God).
Walking back to the Old City Jack took us around the Museum Al Bad – a traditional compound of housing with an olive press factory. This was my first visit here and it was great to see how the house and factory were combined.
A short walk through Bethlehem Market brought us to our lunch venue just off Manger Square – a falafel restaurant (Restaurant Afteem) which was established in 1948 when the family fled Jaffa and came to Bethlehem. After lunch we visited the Bethlehem Museum where the curator, Helen, from the Arab Women’s Union, showed us around the rooms and exhibits explaining what life was like for a family in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The afternoon was a driving tour with Jack and Mohamed to see the fence/wall, how it impacted on the lives of his family and friends and a short visit to Aida Refugee Camp (one of 3 in Bethlehem).
With just a short break for an Ice Cream at the Casa Nova Palace, we then visited the Church of the Nativity, St Katherine’s Church and St Jerome’s cave.
Tonight, after dinner, Jack and Tamara have invited us around to their home for drinks and dessert :)
We have done a great deal of walking and, were I not writing this blog on my phone, I could say much more of some of the stories we have heard and the places we have visited. If you see me, you can always ask!