Taybeh is Waiting for You
By Dr. Maria C. Khoury
This October 6th & 7th Taybeh is waiting for you to listen to the band from Bavaria, Musikkapelle Leobendorf , from Brazil Trio Dona Zefa, from Italy, The Sun and local bands like Al Raseef, and Qalandia Blues while enjoying the mini parade by the Al Harah Theater.
I pray for another successful Oktoberfest during a glorious sunset, as I strolled down the road made beautiful by so much money that has been poured into Taybeh by so many donors and sponsors that it would not be nice to mention one and forget someone else. Hard work has helped place Taybeh on the international scene and has made it a true alternative tourist destination.
Actually, there is someone who is unforgettable and has placed Taybeh on the spiritual map for every Christian. Right after raising Lazarus from the dead, Jesus Christ came to Biblical Ephraim, the modern Taybeh, to escape the crowds. Regardless of the many wars and occupations, a few thousand years later, it’s still pretty much the same situation. Taybeh is a place to escape from your busy schedule and hectic life, whether you are living in Jerusalem or Nazareth. It’s a great alternative tourist location because it is literally known as the village of retreat. When you see the picturesque hills and valleys (and ignore the illegal Israeli settlements), it is so easy to fall in love with Taybeh, regardless of whether you try its local brew.
There is an amazing peacefulness in this area of the West Bank, also known as biblical Judea. We provide two small hotels that can accommodate 16 persons each, and if the guests double up they accommodate at least 30-something, and a brand-new house, which has been turned into the Pension Notre Dame d’el Khader with six double rooms. Coming soon, believe it or not, you might in the future find the Taybeh Golden Hotel with at least 80 rooms, which will be a theme hotel centred around “The Finest (beer) in the Middle East.”
If you are not familiar with Taybeh, you will not be able to understand why the first floor will be called “Golden,” the second floor will be “Dark,” and, for sure, there will be a floor called “Amber.” But the fourth floor is in serious question. It could be called “Taybeh Zero,” but then it shouldn’t be the top floor, but the bottom. These are some of the small challenges you face in a tiny village when you are trying to walk the footsteps of Christ who is well known for resurrecting Lazarus, but you are simply trying to resurrect the collapsed economy with alternative rural tourism. One day at a time, and one project at a time. However, I see this as the greatest challenge to our female brewer, Madees, who is working to solve that fourth-floor dilemma and come up with a great new label to catch up with her dad, the master brewer, Nadim Khoury, while he is busy setting up the new winery. And in the future, will be planting new vineyards in this most ancient spot of Palestine.
Some days, there is not a single international soul walking these beautiful streets of Taybeh, and the guesthouses are empty. But during Taybeh Oktoberfest, you can only stay in the nearby Khourieh Guest House in Jifna because Taybeh will surely be full. That is how it is in a tiny spot like Taybeh, slow most days, but fully packed for the annual village festival, which was founded in 2005 as a way to boost the collapsed local economy. Thus, despite all preconceptions about what is possible for a small village, Taybeh has gained world fame and become part of the alternative tourism route through Palestine.
Despite all the publicity and recognition, visitors still need at least a 24-hour reservation to eat in any of the different places in Taybeh ranging from the well-known Taybeh Zamaan Park (Tel: 0599 774 092 or (02) 289 9411) to the magnificent brand new restaurant and cultural spot launched this spring called Peter’s Place.
Tel: 054 983 8349
or (02) 289 8054)
Now if ever you were wondering how you can see the lights of Jerusalem at night, the lights of Amman, and the sparkle on the Dead Sea by a full moon, it is a must that you come to one of the highest points in Palestine and patronise Mr. Peter Abu Shanab, who has poured his money, heart, soul, and architectural skills into a magnificent historical building in the Old City of Taybeh, which also houses the offices of the Holylanders Association for the Preservation of Christian Heritage, a non-profit charitable association waiting for your membership. This NGO was initially founded in Jerusalem in 2002 but has its new alternative home in Taybeh.
If you have lunch at Peter’s Place, it is a sure thing that you will especially enjoy the traditional Palestinian arts and crafts area in this magnificently preserved centre. This is by far my most favourite new spot in the village, followed by the brand-new cave chapel featuring 33 cross designs from around the world, which was established by Fr. Constantine Nasr. There is also the new exhibit to be featured at Oktoberfest, “Scripture Through the Lens of the Holy Land” initially developed in the United States for an educators conference by Carole Buleza, with photos from creation to the foundation of the Church. We hope to keep inspiring people to see Taybeh as the alternative tourist location.
Dr. Maria C. Khoury is the author of Christina Goes to the Holy Land and the promoter of Taybeh Oktoberfest, scheduled for October 6–7. To know more about Taybeh, view www.taybehmunicipality.org.
Taybeh Oktoberfest brochure