As Christmas approaches in Bethlehem each year, fewer and fewer Christian residents take part – not because the tree in Bethlehem’s Manger Square is any less grand than the year before or because less money is allocated towards the festivities – quite the opposite, actually. While the Bethlehem Municipality has invested in marvelous concerts, carols, processions, a midnight mass, tourism and restored pillars in the Church of the Nativity, the fact remains that the Christian population is decreasing each year in the city where Christians believe Jesus was born.
As Christmas approaches, stars, one of the symbols of the Christian holiday, appear. What few people realize is that the star, symbolizing an astronomical appearance described in the New Testament, may have its sources in Jewish eschatological literature – i.e. that describing the Messiah’s arrival.
UNESCO has passed several resolutions attacking the connection between Israel and the Jewish holy sites, but this week, the Executive Board passed two new resolutions aimed specifically at the Biblical matriarchs. One rabbi sees this as a continuation of the Biblical battle between Isaac and Ishmael and a closer look shows how this is nothing less than an after-the-fact attempt to block the Jews’ return from exile.