Handicrafts: A traditional art and livelihood

Handicrafts production, including olive wood and mother of pearl religious items, has evolved as a cultural tradition of the Palestinian Christians over many centuries. Many Holy Land Christians, about 140 families in the Bethlehem area alone, rely upon income generated from this art form. The items are carved by local craftsmen and sold in small shops that cater to visiting pilgrims. Olive wood items come from small family-run businesses that generally employ only a few family members. They produce:

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Vital support for a Christian Tradition. Individuals, churches, and groups can sell crafts produced by Christian artisans from the Bethlehem

Economic hardship leads to emigration
In recent years, the handicrafts trade has suffered much hardship. Like the tourism industry to which it is linked, it is particularly sensitive to political and social pressures. Closures keep pilgrims from coming into Bethlehem, and as pilgrims dwindle in number, local residents have few opportunities to sell their products. The Israeli government will not issue the Palestinian olive wood carvers permits to take their finished products the six miles from Bethlehem to the gift shops in Jerusalem. Many families are facing critical situations. Without income, many craftsmen leave their traditional trade and emigrate with their families to find relief from the difficult conditions of their homeland.

HCEF develops markets for Holy Land Gifts in the United States
HCEF imports and sells traditional handcrafts such as religious items made from olive wood, and returns the money generated from the sale to the Christian families in the Holy Land engaged in their production. This money is the families’ most significant source of income and means for survival, and it ensures the traditional art will be preserved and passed down to later generations.

Making Holy Land Gifts available in your church
The foundation welcomes churches in the US to arrange for outlets in which Holy Land Gifts might be sold. Church functions, bazaars, and religious holidays can be great outlets for the sale of these handcrafted items. 

Please Visit Our Online Store: HCEFGifts.org