Sunday, March 8, 2009

Taybeh Beer Festival: Cause for Celebration

St. George Greek Orthodox Church of Taybeh in Palestine was completed in 1931 on the same ground where the 7th century church of St. George was build. The original Orthodox church in Taybeh was built in the 4th century by St. Constantine and St. Helen who wanted to build a church or shrine in all the places where Jesus Christ had visited. Taybeh is the modern name for the Biblical village of Ephraim. It is best known for the time Christ came to the village to escape and rest with his disciples before his crucifixion. (John 11:54).

That original church, though in ruins, is a shrine where 1300 Christian residents and pilgrims light candles every day. The site is also of great archeological interest.

St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Taybeh is under the guidance of His Beatitude Patriarch Theophilos III, the Patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria, beyond the Jordan River, Cana of Galilee & Holy Zion. All of the Orthodox faithful are of Palestinian ethnicity; however, in Jerusalem a few hundred people of Greek ethnicity also have deep roots in Palestine in addition to the two hundred serving in the Brotherhood of the Holy Sepulchre.

Two additional churches in Taybeh are the Greek Catholic (Melkite) and Latin Church (Roman Catholic) and one small chapel with retreat facilities built by a French monk. Limited lodging is also available in facilities maintained by Catholic sisters.

The Christian population of Taybeh is beginning to stabilize due to initiatives within the village that have stimulated the economy. One cause of celebration is the October Beer Festival which draws tourists from Jerusalem inspite of the many roadblocks maintained by the State of Israel. The beer is produced at Palestine's only micro-brewery.

A housing area for Jews only has been built in the area. It receives water 7 days a week while the nearly 2000 residents of Taybeh receive water only 3 days a week.

About three and a half million Palestinians live in the West Bank and Gaza , but only a small percentage are Christian. Before 1948, Jerusalem was almost half Christian, now it is barely 2% due to wars, violence and discriminatory policies practiced by the Israeli government. While Jews and Muslims slaughter each other the Christian minority is trying to live in peace and to practice Christ's command to love our enemies and those who seek to harm us.

Many Palestinian Christians have immigrated to other countries where they find greater opportunities for their children. Sadly, it is conceiveable that in the near future there may be no Christians living in the homeland of Christ Jesus.

Education for the Christian children of Taybeh is partially funded by gifts. If you are interested, you may read more here.

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