When I still lived near Jerusalem (sigh . . . ), I loved wandering alone in the Old City, getting lost, and seeing what I would discover off the beaten path.
Once I found a Churches Street, turned up al-Battikh Ascent, and then onto little Ethiopian Monastery Street.
Shyly I stepped into the empty courtyard of another world.
The building said "Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarchate."
A man saw me and invited me to see the monastery church and he graciously opened their 17th century book of gorgeous Bible illuminations with text in Ge'ez.
Enlarge the photo twice to see Mary and child.
Later I realized this man must have been the head clergyman.
Here is the beautiful old manuscript.
Up on the wall, a peeling but still touching scene of the Nativity.
Click to see "Ethiopia extends her hands to God."
To all you Christians who can't be physically present in Jerusalem or Bethlehem tonight, I wish a silent and holy night followed by a merry Christmas.
Shalom from your Jewish Israeli friend Dina.