Bethlehem of Galilee

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Bethlehem of Galilee
בֵּית לֶחֶם הַגְּלִילִית
Templar Architecture In Bethlehem galilee 2004.jpg
Bethlehem of Galilee is located in Israel
Bethlehem of Galilee
Bethlehem of Galilee
Coordinates: 32°44′11.85″N 35°11′28.72″E / 32.7366250°N 35.1913111°E / 32.7366250; 35.1913111Coordinates: 32°44′11.85″N 35°11′28.72″E / 32.7366250°N 35.1913111°E / 32.7366250; 35.1913111
District Northern
Council Jezreel Valley
Region Galilee
Affiliation Moshavim Movement
Founded 1906 (as a Templer colony)
1948 (as a moshav)

Bethlehem of Galilee (Hebrew: בֵּית לֶחֶם הַגְּלִילִית, Beit Lehem HaGlilit; literally "the Galilean Bethlehem") is a town in northern Israel. Located in the Galilee near Kiryat Tivon, around 10 kilometres north-west of Nazareth and 30 kilometres east of Haifa, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council. In 2006, it had a population of 651.

A former Templer colony, it is mentioned in the Book of Joshua (Joshua 19:15) as the city of the Tribe of Zebulun.

History[edit]

To distinguish the town from the city of Bethlehem near Jerusalem, it was originally known as Bethlehem of Zebulun, whilst the town near Jerusalem was called "Bethlehem of Judea."[citation needed]In the Jerusalem Talmud it is referred to as Beth Lehem Zoria, as it was part of the kingdom of Tyre at the time. Until the late 19th century, ruins of a church and a synagogue could be seen there, and archaeological findings "from the early Roman Period"[1] show, it was a prosperous city. So the biblical Bethlehem of Zebulon is "identified"[2] by archaeologists with today's Bethlehem of Galilee. Some scholars regard Bethlehem of Galilee as one of the birthplaces of Rabbinical Judaism.[citation needed]

Due to its proximity to Nazareth, some historians believe that this is the Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Aviram Oshri, a senior archaeologist with the Israeli Antiquities Authority, supports this claim.[3]

Templer colony[edit]

In 1906 Templers from the German Colony in Haifa established a colony in Galilee,[3] naming it for the ancient city. Most Templers bore German citizenship. In 1932 the Nazi party won its first two members in Palestine, Karl Ruff and Walter Aberle from the Templer colony in Haifa.[4] In the course of the 1930s, Bethlehemites also joined the Nazi party, indicating the fading affinity to the Templers' original ideals. By August 1939, 17% of all German Christians in Palestine were members of the Nazi party.[5] After the Nazi takeover in Germany, all international schools of German language subsidized or fully financed by government funds were obliged to employ teachers aligned to the Nazi party. In 1933, Templer functionaries appealed to Paul von Hindenburg and the Foreign Office not to use swastika symbols for German institutions in Palestine and voiced opposition to the boycott of German Jewish shops.[6] Later, this opposition subsided. An Arab branch of Hitler youth was established with the help of government subsidies. On August 20, 1939 the German government called on German Christians in Palestine to join the Wehrmacht and 350 men enlisted.

After the start of the Second World War, all Germans in Palestine were declared enemy aliens. The British authorities sent them to Sarona, Bethlehem (Galilee), Waldheim (today's Allonei Abba) and Wilhelma. In summer 1941, 665 German internees, mostly young families with children, were deported to Australia, leaving those who were too old or sick. In December 1941 and in the course of 1942 another 400 German internees, mostly wives and children of men who had enlisted in the Wehrmacht, were released - via Turkey - to Germany for the purpose of family reunification.[7]

In 1945 the Italian and Hungarian internees were released but the Britons refused to repatriate the remaining German internees to the British zone in Germany. In 1947, they were allowed to emigrate to Australia.[8] By May 14, 1948, when Israel declared independence, only 50 Templers remained in the country.[9]

Moshav[edit]

Restored historic home in Bethlehem of Galilee

On 17 April 1948, the Haganah captured the village and it was resettled by Jewish farmers. Much of the original Templer architecture survives, and is similar in style to the homes built by the Templers in other parts of the country, such as Sarona in Tel Aviv, Wilhelma (today Bnei Atarot) and the German colonies of Haifa and Jerusalem.

In recent years, tourism has replaced agriculture as the main economic branch. A dairy, a herb farm, restaurants and country-style accommodation are among the tourist-oriented businesses in the village today.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Negev,Avraham/Gibson,Shimon, Archaeological Encyclopedia of the Holy Land, New York/London 2001 (=Negev), p.80
  2. ^ Negev, p.80
  3. ^ a b c [1]
  4. ^ Ralf Balke, Hakenkreuz im Heiligen Land: Die NSDAP-Landesgruppe Palästina, Erfurt: Sutton, 2001, p. 41. ISBN 3-89702-304-0
  5. ^ Paul Sauer,Vom Land um den Asperg im Namen Gottes nach Palästina und Australien: Die wechselvolle Geschichte der Tempelgesellschaft, lecture held on 20 October 1995 in Burgstetten on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Kirschenhardthof, printed as Schriftenreihe TG, No. 1 (1996), p. 17
  6. ^ Ralf Balke, Hakenkreuz im Heiligen Land: Die NSDAP-Landesgruppe Palästina, Erfurt: Sutton, 2001, p. 81. ISBN 3-89702-304-0
  7. ^ Paul Sauer,Vom Land um den Asperg im Namen Gottes nach Palästina und Australien: Die wechselvolle Geschichte der Tempelgesellschaft, lecture held on 20 October 1995 in Burgstetten on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Kirschenhardthof, printed as Schriftenreihe TG, No. 1 (1996), pp. 18seqq.
  8. ^ Paul Sauer,Vom Land um den Asperg im Namen Gottes nach Palästina und Australien: Die wechselvolle Geschichte der Tempelgesellschaft, lecture held on 20 October 1995 in Burgstetten on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Kirschenhardthof, printed as Schriftenreihe TG, No. 1 (1996), p. 19.
  9. ^ Paul Sauer,Vom Land um den Asperg im Namen Gottes nach Palästina und Australien: Die wechselvolle Geschichte der Tempelgesellschaft, lecture held on 20 October 1995 in Burgstetten on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of Kirschenhardthof, printed as Schriftenreihe TG, No. 1 (1996), p. 20.