New mosaicists in Bethlehem: stories of the people attending the courses

Giacomo Pizzi22 August 2018

“New mosaicists for Bethlehem” is the name of the project promoted and supported by the Province of Trento and Association of Franciscan Missions Trento together with ATS pro Terra Sancta at the Mosaic Center of Jericho, the Association Amici di P. Kaswalder and Aca de Vita, led to the opening of a new production and restoration of the mosaic in the heart of Bethlehem.

“We have only started this first three-month course for four days and already see the first results” says Rafat (29) who, after years of working at the Mosaic Center in Jericho, today teaches this new and special young seven art. “Rafat has gold hands – explains Osama Hamdan, director of the Mosaic Center – that’s why I wanted him to teach his own people what he learned with great skill”.

Osama and Rozan are two young archaeologists from the Aquds University who have already collaborated with the project of ATS pro Terra Sancta and Mosaic Center Jericho excavating on the Betania site. “I live in a village between Hebron and Bethlehem and I have just graduated; so as soon as I saw that there was a new opportunity I launched myself in this new adventure “says Osama. “The art of mosaic – continues Rozan – is strongly linked with what I have studied in books and in the field. Now I can really understand how the magnificent stone drawings were found that are found here in Bethlehem (eg in the Church of the Nativity) as in all of Palestine “. One of the objectives of the project is, in fact, to facilitate the insertion into the world of work and in this case in the field of restoration and enhancement of its heritage.

Tania and Rulla are two former teachers who discovered this course through Facebook and their parish community. “We are mothers and housewives and we know that working in the house and being concentrated for so many hours is hard but this new activity opens our mind and we are not bored because we know we are creating something new”.

There are those like Tamara, 24, who studies art and knows how hard it is to live if you do not know each technique well. “Art is sometimes taught only in schools and here nobody pays art because it seems that nobody needs art, but I believe in this project and I hope to specialize more and more”.

So this new team and generation of mosaicists, composed of Christians and Muslims, is working on motifs that will decorate the kitchen of the new Mosaic Center. “Not only the technique but also function and reason are very important” explains the teacher. “Everyone wants to decorate their home – says Tamara – so this can be a future investment in my life. Then we are drawing a palm and an orange tree that are symbols of our city so we feel part of our identity “.

“It’s nice to work together and immediately notice that everyone has a different hand, someone uses smaller, bigger cards,” concludes Rulla. “For this we exchange places because being together is always the best thing in art as in life! “.