Posted by: heatherlehrman | December 26, 2011

Bethlehem on Christmas

On Saturday night, my friend Chip and I went to Jerusalem where we met our friends Morgan, Maddy and Alex who were already there. We couldn’t reach them at first but it was because they went to an Arabic Christmas Mass, which they said was awesome. Upon arriving, it started to pour outside and I was not at all prepared for the rain. I knew it was going to rain so I had my rain jacket but I didn’t realize how much it would rain and did not have proper shoes. After we got to the hostel (which was by the Damascus gate of the Old City) we changed, put our stuff down and walked to Yaffo Street (about a 10 minute walk). It was Chips 21st birthday so we went to a nice dinner. Mind you, it was still pouring out and by the time we got to the restaurant my shoes were completely soaked (in and out, socks and all). It was not fun!! But dinner was a good time! We ordered Chip a piece of chocolate cake while he was in the bathroom– we told the waitress it was his birthday and then the manager came over to us later on and said, “Who ordered the chocolate cake”. Surprise ruined – we all burst into laughter.

After dinner we headed back to the hostel because we were waking up early the next morning and we wanted to relax and get some sleep. Fortunately, we had the room to ourselves – at least when we went to bed we did! I was sleeping on a top bunk and was absolutely freezing the whole night. I woke up around 8AM due to the cold, realizing my blanket was on the floor. Merry Christmas to me… I also realized that we had other people in the room! I believe it was a couple because they were sleeping in the same bed. Or maybe they were just cold. I also realized that the window was open!! It wasn’t a big deal though because we were about to get up anyway to get ready for our day. My shoes were still soaked. Thank goodness I had 2 extra pairs of socks. Morgan gave me a genius idea to wrap my feet in plastic bags and then put my shoes on so my feet would stay dry.  GENIUS!

After we were ready to go, we hopped on a bus to go to Bethlehem. The bus ride was about 30 minutes. We were expecting to go through a check point but we only had to go through one on our way back to Jerusalem. When we got off the bus, we had to get a cab that would take us near the Church of Nativity and that would take all five of us in one car. We thought it would be hard to find a driver who would take all of us but we ended up finding two drivers! Both of which were hard-core fighting over us. The driver we chose dropped us down the street and then we walked about 5 minutes and arrived. On our walk towards the church, we saw a ghetto/bootleg Starbucks called Star & Bucks. I found that so amusing.

The Church of Nativity is the church where Jesus was supposedly born in. It is right outside a huge square, so before we went inside the Church, we spent some time walking around. There were all kinds of tourist shops and Christmas decorations all around – put us in the Christmas spirit! There were Santa’s and trees all around. Out of the 5 of us, I was the only full Jew – I was with 2 Catholics, and 2 who were half Jewish.

There were a lot of news camera’s/trucks all around the church because it was Christmas.

The entrance to the Church was this tiny hole in the wall that you had to climb through. It was really busy and there were a lot of tourists and diverse people.  You could easily distinguish the extremely religious people versus the people who just wanted to see the church. It reminded me of the Holy Seplicur in the Christian Quarter of the Old City in Jerusalem. The church wasn’t all that beautiful, but it had a lot to look at – there were a lot of lights and things hanging from the ceiling. There was a long line to go into this cave like thing where Jesus was “actually born,” but I didn’t make it in.

We were going to go visit the Sheppard’s field but we didn’t because it was really rainy and cold outside. After we left the church, we walked around for a little bit and headed back to Jerusalem where we got lunch and left for Tel Aviv.

Going to this church on Christmas was a really interesting/very different thing to do. On a normal Christmas, I eat Chinese food with my family! Although it was rainy and cold the whole time, we didn’t let it bother us. And in the end, I was the only one who had dry feet at the end of the day 🙂

Getting back to the dorms and taking off my wet shoes and many plastic bags felt AWESOME!

Overall a VERY cool trip!!

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