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The Well in Artas

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 18.02.2006:

The village Artas near Bethlehem is famous for its well. The Prophet Al-Khader or St. George used to drink from the water of this well since it was holy. Nowadays women and children still fill their bottles and jars with fresh water from the well.

The water of the well fulfils various needs. The villagers often face a water shortage, especially during the Summer when there is sometimes no running water for 20 days. In those periods the well becomes the main water source. The well also used to serve as a social meeting place for the women. There they heard the last news or met their future husbands. Women and children still visit the well to hear the gossips. Furthermore, people prefer the fresh and tasty water which the well provides. If an Artas family invites you at home, they will make you tea from the water of the well. Mousa Sanad, the director the Heritage Center in the village, told us the following story.

Once there was a woman from Beit Jala whose husband, like many other Palestinians, left for South America. The man never returned and left his wife behind in a desperate mood. She cried so much that her sorrow inspired her to write a poem in which she compared her tears with the water of the well of Artas. Her teardrops flowed without interruption, like the water of the well…

From: “Sahteen: Discover the Palestinian Culture by Eating”, published by the Freres School, Bethlehem, part of the Culture and Palestine series issued by the Arab Educational Institute-Open Windows, Bethlehem, 1999. To order the book, send a mail to aei@p-ol.com

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