Taybeh You have arrived at Taybeh, a Palestinian village, located in the centre of the West Bank, it is around 19 miles from Jerusalem. From its elevation (920m) and location between biblical Samaria and Judea, it overlooks the desert wilderness, the Jordan Valley, Jericho and the Dead Sea. Taybeh is one of the most ancient places in Palestine, dating back to the Bronze Age and is mentioned in the Book of Joshua as Ofra, a town of Benjamin. In New Testament times it was known as Ephraim, the village in which Jesus chose to retire to with his disciples after the resurrection of Lazarus to fortify his spirit, pray and fast before his return to Jerusalem and his Passion. The original Church of St George, built by the Byzantines in the 5th century and rebuilt by the Crusaders in the 12th century, lies in ruins on the eastern outskirts of Taybeh. Surrounded by Muslim villages, Israeli settlements and military roadblocks, Taybeh is the only all-Christian town in Palestine whose inhabitants are intensely proud of their Christian heritage, their folklore group and their choir. Only 7.5 miles northeast of Ramallah, Taybeh is a popular day trip due to its beautiful, whitewashed homes, brewery and Byzantine church. The town centre itself is one of the most beautiful in Palestine, with elegant, white homes reminiscent of a Spanish pueblo, and enticing stairways and alleys. Taybeh is also famous for having its own brewery and Oktoberfest celebration. The brewery, launched in 1994, is one of two in Palestine and as of 2014 now also produces its own wine. The beer is a high quality natural product, up to the standards of any German beer. There are now Taybeh breweries in Germany and the UK. The project is an excellent example of Palestinian entrepreneurship, succeeding in the face of adversity. Tours are available for visitors, with a free sample of course included, while the annual Oktoberfest celebration is becoming increasingly popular. Nadim Khoury, a Palestinian who moved to the US and since returned, as co-founder of the brewery, explains how he built this success here - Friends of the Holy Land's mission is to support a sustainable Christian presence. Christian Community Population: 1,300 Christians: 1,300 Taybeh has an all Christian population, the only 100% Christian village in Palestine. The people of Taybeh belong to three Christian denominations: the Latin (Roman Catholic) church is the largest community at around 800, the balance coming from the Greek Orthodox church as well as the Melkite (Greek Catholic) church. Within the grounds of the Latin Church of Christ the Redeemer, in the courtyard where you enter is a reconstruction of a traditional peasant home, the ed-dar or al-beit. These rural homes contained one large square room, 5 or 6 metres square, a stone ceiling with ribbed vaults and narrow windows. A small stairway led to a unique room in these traditional homes – the mastaba, which was slightly raised. The mastaba, reached by a small staircase, was the kitchen, living room and bedroom all in one. During the day, mattresses sleeping were piled up in a large alcove. On the lower level, the livestock (sheep, goats, donkeys or mules) were kept in the same space where the agricultural tools were stored. The entrance to the stairs allowed the heat from the animals to heat the family area on the upper level. Rooms were added around the courtyard when there were additions to the family. Sadly there are many more Christian families, originally from Taybeh, living outside Palestine, around 15,000 by the latest estimates. Fr Johnny Abu Khalil, Parish Priest of the Latin Church of Christ the Redeemer explains the difficulties so many families faced during the pandemic and how the Church was able to help, supported by Friends of the Holy Land. He invites all of us to visit the Christian community of Taybeh when possible. They rarely get visitors from the UK and we are all most welcome. Schools: In 1869 the Latin Patriarchate established a school in Taybeh. This school was divided into two parts, one for boys (25) and one for girls (15). In 1966 the “two schools” became co-educational. It became a secondary school in 1978, facilitating the enrolment of many students from the neighbouring villages. The school has two floor-levels, a yard and playgrounds for basketball, volleyball and handball. It comprises all the stages of learning, from kindergarten through secondary, offering both literary and scientific streams. Since 1978, 20 groups have graduated. The school has a total of 31 teachers, both male and female, while two religious sisters are responsible for religious education. It has a modern library that contains at least fifteen hundred books of both English and Arabic languages and is the largest school in Taybeh attended by over 500 children. The Taybeh Greek Orthodox Patriarchal School serves over 270 students from Taybeh and neighbouring villages. After a refreshing stop, time for you to move on to Jifna, a village that has maintained a Christian majority since the 6th century. More information when you get there. See you soon!