On Friday, June 12, a group of sixty Palestinian youth from across the Palestinian territories came together to explore their common ancestry in Bethlehem’s newest museum — the Bethlehem Museum. These students came as participants of a Youth Christian Students of Palestine (JEC) summer camp, which was held in Beit Sahour between Wednesday, June 10 and Sunday, June 14.
The students, who were accompanied by Youth Christian Students Spiritual Advisor Father Bashar Fawadleh and JEC Palestine General Secretary Mr. Moghanam Moghanam, were given a tour of the museum, which introduced them to the various sections of the museum, as well as the institution’s history and the story behind its various artifacts.
After the conclusion of the tour, the participants were able to provide feedback about their time at the museum. Overall, the responses were very positive: the youth expressed enthusiasm about learning more about Bethlehem’s history through the many exhibits and artifacts on display. They were especially eager to learn more about the cultural aspects of their history, including the history of Palestinian traditional dress and seeing Palestine’s ancient bibles. In addition, the youth responded positively to the display of the cross constructed from stones collected at the separation wall as a symbol of peace.
Father Fawathleh expressed that he was very proud to be one of the first people to visit the museum, which was rich in the history of both Palestinian and Christian traditions. He noted his appreciation for building’s design and the ways in which its specific details revealed the story of Palestine’s history. For example, the water canals running throughout the museum symbolize the Roman water aqueducts that used to run between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. To conclude, Fr. Fawathleh said he looked forward to future collaborations with the Bethlehem Museum and HCEF.
At the end of the tour, the students took a group photo outside the museum to commemorate their visit. The Bethlehem Museum served as a space for these youth to come together to learn, experience and live their common history and heritage.