Taybeh’s annual OktoberFest to be held Sept. 16 & 17
OktoberFest is more than about drinking alcohol. It is a part of the Christian heritage. Consumed in moderation and with the spirit of fellowship and Palestinian comradery. This year, OktoberFest will be celebrated on Sept. 16 and 17th in Taybeh, one of the most important centers of Christian existence in the Holy Land.
By Ray Hanania
I love Taybeh, not just because it is in Palestine but because it is one of Christianity’s last Holy Land centers.
I know we look towards Bethlehem, and as a Christian I do. Bethlehem is where my mother’s family originates and it is where Jesus was born, something most American Christians apparently have forgotten.
But Taybeh is special. It’s Christian presence is strong. It’s Christian identity is solid. It is the one place where Christians can go and feel comfortable among their own.
The few Christians in the West who have not forsaken their true religious beliefs who travel to Palestine, the Holy Land, and visit Bethlehem should also expand their visit to include Teybeh where one can see Christian Palestinians continuing the traditions laid down by Christ and the disciples as they were meant to be observed.
Taybeh is where Christians gather to celebrate being Christian without casting any aspersions on anyone else or other religions. Taybeh is about being Christian and having Christian pride.
For some reason, some people think that is bad. But I don’t. I’m proud to be Christian and a Palestinian from the Holy Land tied to the Biblical roots of our faith.
That’s not to cast any aspersions against Muslims or Jews, by the way. There are extremist Muslims and extremist Jews who hate Christians, as they also hate each other. But the majority of Muslims and majority of Jews, especially outside of the growing fanaticism in Israel, respect Christian Arabs and recognize they are a slowly vanishing breed of people.
Muslims and Jews should celebrate Taybeh and respect its Christian traditions. One of them is the celebration of OktoberFest, which began with the marriage of King Ludwig (Louis) I, the heir to the Bavarian throne, to Therese on 12 October 1810. The Roman Catholic Christian wedding was the occasion of the first OktoberFest celebration.
The celebration involved eating and, most importantly, drinking beer.
Which brings us back to Taybeh. Taybeh is the home of Palestine’s only home grown beer, Taybeh Beer. Taybeh Brewery is a Palestinian brewery founded in 1994. The brewery is in the West Bank village of Taybeh, 35 kilometres north of Jerusalem. It produced its first beer in 1995 and has since developed a global following.
I enjoyed my first Taybeh beer at a little second floor bar in Ramallah, (God’s Village) that had heavy clear plastic doors and windows called “Stones” in 1996 the first year Taybeh beer was brewed. I have loved it ever since. And, as a Christian, it made me proud that Taybeh produced such an honorable and important consumer product. I was serving as National President of the Palestinian American Congress and had come attack from religious fanatics and members of Hamas for my enthusiastic support of the Two-State Solution and peace with Israel.
Now, I get that some of the hardcore religious people don’t like any alcohol at all. Although in all honesty the restrictions we see throughout the Arab and Muslim World are often violated in secret by the very people claiming to adhere to alcohol prohibition.
But they should respect those who disagree and enjoy alcoholic products, as many Christians do. Wine is a major part of the Christian Church. We consume red wine as a symbol of the Holy Spirt of Jesus Christ not just at communion, where bread and wine is consecrated in our faith, but also at weddings, religious holidays like Easter and Christmas.
Moderate alcoholic consumption is appropriate and good. Red wine is healthy. And to do so in the spirit of your faith is even healthier.
If you want to support the slowly vanishing Christians of the Middle East, then you need to support Taybeh’s annual OktoberFest.
It’s important to Taybeh, a Palestinian village oppressed under the military thumb of the Israeli occupation. And, it is important to the Christians of Taybeh that others would show fellowship towards Palestine’s Christian community which suffers the brunt of oppression in the Christian Middle East.