Jerusalem is pretty much closed down on Saturdays for Shabbat. So I hopped on a Palestinian bus headed for Bethlehem. From what I have learned recently, I don’t think this is what Jesus would have done.
Bethlehem is located in the Palestinian Territories and Israeli law prohibits Jews from traveling to them. Jesus probably would not have risked arrest just to go to a place where he had no particular connection. That is, Bethlehem is not the birthplace of Jesus. The historical evidence suggests Jesus was born in Nazareth. No manger, no kings, and Herod did not require his subjects to show up in Bethlehem for a census in the year Jesus was born (or ever). Historians speculate that the writers of the Gospels had to create the manger story to put Jesus in the neighborhood identified by the prophets as the birthplace of the messiah.
I respect that Christians may take issue with the historians’ analysis. Many make the pilgrimage to Bethlehem to visit the Church of the Nativity and other Christian sites. I went there to see them and because Bethlehem is an easy and low risk way to visit Palestine.
Walking through the marketplace toward the church, a young shop owner looked at me and said “Hi San Francisco!” I was kind of shocked because I wasn’t wearing my “I am from San Francisco” t-shirt or flowers in my hair. Maybe he says that to all the tourists and occasionally he is right. The picture is my new friend Aladdin in his shop. He is standing next to the meal he brought me after I asked him where I could get something besides a falafel sandwich, which, except for a few pieces of fruit, is all I have eaten for the past three days. Eager to please, he went to the cafe next door and returned with a plate of the foods that go into a falafel sandwich with the pita bread on the side :). While I was eating, Aladdin told me about his Palestinian family, his disappointment in President Obama and how much he needed to take home every night to feed his family. He offered to take me to Herod’s Castle and horseback riding at his cousin’s house (for $70). I was opening my mouth to say “you’re on” when a little voice in my head told me to walk away and think about it. So I bought a couple of $4 bags for $35 and told him I would return if I had time after seeing the local sites.
p.s. I kind of lied about eating nothing but falafels for three days. I had a bagel one morning that convinced me that the bagel is a concept created by Jews in New York and Montreal.“Remember God in prosperity and he will remember you in adversity.” Muhammad