Theme Week Palestine – Beit Jala

Thursday, 28 December 2017 - 12:00 pm (CET/MEZ) Berlin | Author/Destination:
Category/Kategorie: General, Union for the Mediterranean

Saint Nicholas Church © SalibaQ/cc-by-sa-3.0

Saint Nicholas Church © SalibaQ/cc-by-sa-3.0

Beit Jala is a Palestinian Christian town in the Bethlehem Governorate of the West Bank. Beit Jala is located 10 km south of Jerusalem, on the western side of the Hebron road, opposite Bethlehem, at 825 meters (2,707 ft) altitude. In 2007, Beit Jala had 11,758 inhabitants. About 75% of the population were Christians (mostly Greek Orthodox) and about 25% Muslims. A crypt, dating to the 5th or 6th century C.E. was located under the Church of St. Nicolas. In the Crusader era, the village was called Apezala, and the Church of Saint Nicholas was possibly rebuild during that time. In 1883, the Palestine Exploration Fund‘s Survey of Western Palestine (SWP) described Beit Jala as: “A large and flourishing village of white well-built stone houses, on the slope of a steep hill. The water supply is artificial, with a well in the valley below. The population is said by Pere Lievin to amount to 3,000, of whom 420 are Catholics, and the rest Orthodox Greeks. There is a Greek and a Latin church in the village. There are remarkably fine groves of olives round and beneath the village, and the hill is covered with vineyards which belong to the place.”

Beit Jala is home to educational institutions run by a variety of Christian denominations, including the Arab Orthodox Benevolent Society. A Russian Orthodox school was established in 1866. The Latin Patriarchate Seminary, which supervises religious liturgical education in the Jerusalem Patriarchate, moved to Beit Jala in 1936. The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan and the Holy Land (ELCJHL) has a congregation in Beit Jala. The denomination also runs the Talitha Kumi School in Beit Jala, which was founded by Lutheran deaconesses in the 19th century and relocated in Beit Jala in 1961. The school has developed an environmental education program and operates the only bird-ringing station in the Palestinian sector. The school also runs a guesthouse.

Saint Nicholas Church © SalibaQ/cc-by-sa-3.0 © flickr.com - DYKT Mohigan/cc-by-2.0 © Gilabrand/cc-by-sa-3.0 Church of Beit Jala © Mujaddara/cc-by-sa-3.0
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Saint Nicholas Church © SalibaQ/cc-by-sa-3.0
The Beit Jala skyline is dominated by several churches, among them the Church of the Virgin Mary, the Church of St. Michael, and the Church of Saint Nicholas. According to tradition, St. Nicholas spent four years in a cave where the Church is built upon it. These three churches belong to the Greek Orthodox Church. The Latin Church of Annunciation is the Catholic church built in 1850. The Syrian Orthodox Church runs the Mar Afram school in Beit Jala. Since 2007 Mar Afram has offered classes in Aramaic (more specifically, the Syriac dialect) to its students, which are taught by elderly residents of the town who still speak the waning language fluently. A similar program is run for Maronite children in the Arab Christian village of Jish in Northern Israel.

Beit Jala has a government-run 113-bed hospital, and a 77-bed privately run specialized surgery hospital operated by the Arab Society for Rehabilitation. Primary health care is provided by the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health. In addition, there are many charities, medical institutions and private health clinics. Societies for the disabled in Beit Jala include the Bethlehem Arab Society, Lifegate Rehabilitation and House Jemima, a Dutch-founded home and daycare-center for children with mental disabilities. Cremisan Cellars, located in the Cremisan monastery, is an important local winemaker. The winery has operated since the establishment of the monastery in the 19th century. Modern equipment was introduced in 1997. Beit Jala was once famous for its pork, olive oil, apricots and stone masonry. Other economic branches are tobacco, textiles, agriculture and pharmaceuticals. The Beit Jala Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Company (formerly Jordan Chemical Laboratory) was established in 1958 to manufacture generic drug pharmaceutical products for the local market. The West Bank Barrier is being extended to encircle the area, splitting the monastery, whiuch would end up on the Israeli side, from the sister Salesian convent, and making access to this recreational area for Beit Jala residents very difficult. 57 Christian families are slated to lose their agricultural property.

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Read more on Beit Jala, Christian Community & Training Center Beit Al Liqa’, Wikitravel Beit Jala and Wikipedia Beit Jala. Learn more about the use of photos. To inform you about latest news most of the city, town or tourism websites offer a newsletter service and/or operate Facebook pages/Twitter accounts. In addition more and more destinations, tourist organizations and cultural institutions offer Apps for your Smart Phone or Tablet, to provide you with a mobile tourist guide (Smart Traveler App by U.S. Department of State - Weather report by weather.com). If you have a suggestion, critique, review or comment to this blog entry, we are looking forward to receive your e-mail at comment@wingsch.net. Please name the headline of the blog post to which your e-mail refers to in the subject line.




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