Festive events in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Nazareth

Christmas in the holy city.

christmas 521 (photo credit: REUTERS)
christmas 521
(photo credit: REUTERS)
With dozens of churches scattered throughout the Old City’s Christian Quarter, including the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Dormition Abbey on Mount Zion, the Tomb of the Virgin on Mount of Olives and the Garden Tomb just outside the Old City, there are many Christmas services for tourists and visitors from which to choose, including in different languages.
The magical neighborhood of Ein Kerem also offers a number of monasteries, as well as the Church of John the Baptist for Christmas prayer.
The Jerusalem Municipality and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael- Jewish National Fund, as every year, distributes free Christmas trees to the city’s Christian residents. The Jerusalem Development Authority, in coordination with local residents and shopkeepers, also decorates the streets and hangs festive lighting in the Christian Quarter.
Christmas Mass and Services For complete information on prayer services and languages, visit the Christian Information Center website (www.cicts.org), which lists masses and services December 24-January 6.
Christmas Concerts A Christmas Eve concert will be taking place at the Jerusalem International YMCA auditorium (26 King David Street) on Tuesday, December 24 at 7 p.m., with Judi Axelrod as conductor and music director.
Christmas carols will be performed by the Jerusalem A Cappella Singers; the Jerusalem Oratorio Chamber Choir directed by Ofer Dalal; and the Jerusalem International YMCA Palestinian and Israeli Youth Chorus, directed by Mika Hendler. Marina Ganshin, harp; Svetlana Bandikova, soprano; Rina Schechter, piano.
Carillion (bell ringing) concert from the YMCA tower by Gabi Shefler. Program: Schubert, Mozart, Debussy and seasonal finale with the traditional sing-along of carols with the audience.
Tickets: NIS 50. Information: 623-7000; tickets@bimot.co.il There will be a Hallelujah Christmas concert at Christ Church in the Old City (across the road from the Tower of David Museum) on December 27 at 10:30 a.m.
Performed by the Charlotta Chorale of Tel Aviv, the classical music is a moving tribute to “A Hope for Peace and Friendship.”
The ensemble performs throughout the world.
Conductor Eli Gefen has a rich background in classical music, as a leading baritone soloist in Israel and a bassoon player in the Cameri Orchestra. Information: 626-5333. Christmas in Bethlehem Visitors to Bethlehem may experience the annual Midnight Mass in the Basilica of the Nativity (by ticket only), preceded by the ceremonial welcoming of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem to Bethlehem (1 p.m.).
The Tourism Ministry will offer free transportation for pilgrims traveling between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Buses will make the round-trip, according to demand, from Mar Elias Monastery in Jerusalem to the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. This service will operate nonstop from noon on December 24 to noon on December 25.
Ministry representatives will welcome tourists and pilgrims at Rachel’s Crossing, with a gift bag containing a set of coasters depicting scenes of Israel and chocolate in the spirit of the holiday.
Christmas in Nazareth Nazareth hosts a traditional Christmas market, selling Christmas decorations, gifts and other items in the area around Mary’s Well. The festive lighting of the Christmas tree, located near the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, took place on December 11.
On Christmas Eve, the traditional parade of thousands of local youth, together with leaders of the Christian communities, will pass through Nazareth from 3 p.m. The parade ends at the plaza in front of the Basilica with a fireworks display, sponsored by the Tourism Ministry, to announce the opening of festive Christmas celebrations (5:30 p.m.). Christmas Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of the Annunciation at 7 p.m.
On Christmas Day, all Catholic churches in the city will hold mass services. At the Church of the Annunciation, the first mass will begin at 7 a.m., followed by a festive mass at 10 a.m.