You may remember two Palestinian Christians visiting the parish some years ago, they will return next weekend. Elias Rishmawy represents Christian families in and around Bethlehem and has written to explain their mission. Fr John
Bethlehem art is run by the Christian families in and around Bethlehem.
Our mission statement is to provide an income for the few Christian families still living in Bethlehem. There are few pilgrims and visitors to the Holy Land and so families have no means of selling their work. The result is that many families are facing great poverty and distress, as this is for many is their main livelihood.
The items produced by local craftsmen are individually hand carved from the wood of the olive tree that are common throughout the Holy Land and in particular those which surround my native city of Bethlehem. Many of the trees are over 300 years old and many used for the carvings have fallen during the troubles.
Since olive wood is one of the hardest woods on earth, the woodcarvings and their detailing require the patience of very skilled craftsmen. God has blessed the craftsmen of Bethlehem with a very special talent.
This art of woodcarvings has been practised for centuries and passed down through generations from father to son.
Once the items are carved, they are sanded and coated with a sealant varnish to protect the wood and highlight the grain. There will be no need for oiling or any further treatment, just display it and enjoy its beauty. These items will last a lifetime and can easily be enjoyed by generations to come.
I have the honour of representing the families and the craftsmen in my town of Bethlehem and I am proud to bring their carvings here to the United Kingdom for you to enjoy.
Every purchase of these carvings will help to support the many Christian families that still in current times live under constant deprivation and conflict.