Rick Steves’ Thoughts on Bright Stars of Bethlehem this Christmas

Growing up, thinking so much about Bethlehem and the first Christmas, it’s a destination that pops up in so many travel dreams. And then, finally getting there you find “the little town” is actually a booming commercial and cultural center in a complicated corner of a complicated world.

Except for delays at a towering wall, you could bike from where Jesus entered our world to where he left it in half an hour. Under soldiers in watch towers, tour buses enter the town–filled with sightseers eager to enter the Church of the Nativity. In a steady parade, they touch and photograph the spot where we like to imagine the baby in the manger.

And just down the street, amidst in all that humanity, in all that discord and tension, is a place that celebrates what the Prince of Peace came to Bethlehem to teach us: that we can live together, we can love each other, and we can do God’s will by spreading not fear but hope. Dar al-Kalima University of Arts & Culture and the inspirational mission of Rev Mitri Raheb and his staff are indeed the bright stars of Bethlehem. And I’m thankful to be able to help support them in their work.

About Rick Steves

Guidebook author and travel TV host Rick Steves is America’s most respected authority on European travel. Rick took his first trip to Europe in 1969, visiting piano factories with his father, a piano importer. As an 18-year-old, Rick began traveling on his own, funding his trips by teaching piano lessons. In 1976, he started his business, Rick Steves’ Europe, which has grown from a one-man operation to a company with a staff of 100 full-time, well-travelled employees at its headquarters in Edmonds, Washington, near Seattle. There he produces a best-selling guidebook series on European travel, America’s most popular travel series on public television, a weekly hour-long national public radio show, a weekly syndicated column, and free travel information available through his travel center and ricksteves.com. Rick Steves’ Europe also runs a successful European tour program organizing small-group tours that take more than 30,000 travelers to Europe annually. His mission: to empower Americans to have trips that are fun, affordable, and culturally broadening.  When not on the road, Rick is active in his church and with advocacy groups focused on economic and social justice, drug policy reform, and ending hunger.