Salaam Shalom Peace

On the road to Bethlehem

What do you think of when you hear the word, Christmas? Might you think about twinkling lights on a Christmas tree? About colourful packages tucked beneath that tree? About the yummy smell and taste of gingerbread cookies? About the feeling of being tucked in for “a long winter’s nap” on Christmas Eve?

What do you think about if the Baby Jesus comes to mind? Might you picture a stable? About a baby lying in a manger (an open box or trough from which animals eat)? In Bethlehem?

Where IS Bethlehem? It is in the West Bank, in the occupied Palestinian territory. The distance from Jerusalem, where I am living, is 9.6 km or 6 miles. How long would that take to walk? Maybe 2.5 or 3 hours? If you were able to drive there, without traffic, it might take about 20 minutes.

Last week, I travelled to Bethlehem with other Ecumenical Accompaniers from around the world. We caught the bus near the Old City of Jerusalem and arrived at the Israeli government’s Checkpoint on the north side of Bethlehem about 25 minutes later.

We had to get off the bus and walk through the Checkpoint showing our passports. Everyone wishing to go to and from Bethlehem and Jerusalem has to show their identity papers to the army guards at the Checkpoint. If you wish to travel from Bethlehem, the lines can be very long. Sometimes, the guards don’t let people through the Checkpoint. Going to Bethlehem is easier than going to Jerusalem because you are leaving Israel and going to the occupied Palestinian territory. Israel and Palestine have been talking about peace for many years.  Until peace is made, children in Bethlehem and children in Jerusalem live on opposite sides of the wall that you see in these pictures.

What is life like for the children in Bethlehem? A new friend, Ann Farr from England, created this PowerPoint presentation with her friends. Click here . A new browser window will open. Scroll down almost to the end of the webpage. Click on the picture titled, “Bethlehem… a living city”. This is a photo story about living in Bethlehem today.

When you think about Christmas in Bethlehem, what do you think about…?

Comments on: "On the road to Bethlehem" (2)

  1. Laurel Gauld said:

    Merry Christmas Sherryanne!
    It is very good to see your photos and read your words. I have subscribed to get this particular blog about your journey. The wall photos are intimidating. Israel, this sacred land just ought not to be this way. I spent three months on a Kibbutz in 1971. At that time there was no wall in Israel. There was certainly tension on the border fronts between Israel and Syria. I loved my time working in the children houses, the kitchen and the pardess picking Jaffa oranges. While we were there we visited Nazareth and the church of the nativity. We also visited crusader posts, Mount Hermon, the Negev, Massada, Bersheva, Jerusalem, Haifa, Tel Aviv and Accaba. My time in Israel was one of the very best times in my life and it is sad to see such tension.
    I am glad you are witnessing. Be well

  2. […] Dawn, who has been placed in Bethlehem (9.6 km from where I lived in 2010-2011 – click here)…one, a new friend within the past month, Natalie, who has been placed in Jayyous (close to […]

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