Friday, December 23, 2016

Bethlehem AD

For several years, visiting this has been a family Christmas tradition; this year, I saw a call for participants and the girls immediately expressed interest.  They feel like they lucked out with the very best roles, for as "tribes people" (from the tribe of Levi) they got a lot of variety in what they did, going to seven different stations throughout the night to play with dreidels, learn Hebrew, cook pita bread or crack nuts in the market, visit the Roman camp and welcome visitors, hand out coins with which visitors could pay their taxes, or hold animals.  They also got a break with hot cider and fresh donuts and by the end of the night began really getting into their roles, harassing the Roman soldiers surreptitiously.  Despite the rain on one of the nights, they had a blast.

Of course, the real reason for replicating Bethlehem at the time of Christ's birth was the live nativity scene, which surrounded by singing angels is really impressive.  Our friend Kathleen came one night and commented on how moving it is to see the energetic crowd come to a standstill in front of the manger, spending time just staring at the family who were portraying the Holy Family.  She echoed my sentiments exactly, writing later that she "really enjoyed the live nativity and appreciate such an outward demonstration of belief, especially as it becomes more and more counter cultural."  She added that she "was really struck by the Holy Family this year.  How beautiful and loving that God came to us as a little baby.  That's a lot of love for each one of us!"

Amen, indeed.  This is a concept that is so familiar that we take it for granted, but waiting for the girls on this cold night and looking at that adorable child left me a lot of time to savor the beauty of this belief.  It also allowed me to relish the many opportunities that our faith gives us to be part of a global community that unites to appreciate the beauty of this world, to celebrate life and love, and to continuously look for new ways to be kind to one another.

Rolling dough for pita bread

Cracking nuts for the visitors

Her turn to offer nuts to the visitors

They got to hold chickens and rabbits for the visitors to pet

Even as an actor, G has questions for the Rabbi in Hebrew school; K is on the left, peering at the camera.

Visiting kids wanted their picture taken with the tribe of Levi

Lovely!  All of the participants gathered at the nativity scene at the end of each night to 'adore him.'

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