The goal of the Olive Wood Project is to help Palestinian Christians in Bethlehem to remain in the Holy Land by providing the income from the sale of their carvings. This is not a commercial operation. All of the money from the sale of the carvings goes back to Bethlehem.
The project was started by Michael and Carmen Zoughbi of Bethlehem during the first Gulf War 1990-91, when tourism had ceased in the Holy Land. Bethlehem depends mostly on tourism. Families in Bethlehem were impoverished by lack of sales of their work, some even unable to offer the traditional small cup of Arabic coffee to guests. At first only 2 families could be supported, at least partly. Over the years, the project has grown to 46 Christian families, representing over 400 people. Prices are kept low to increase the volume of sales in order to keep the carvers busy; lack of work is very discouraging and hard on people. Made from Olive wood, these sculptures were carved by Palestinian Christians.
Olive Wood from Bethlehem
The carvings are made from the dried branches pruned from the Olive trees. Trees are not cut down to make the carvings. The darker and mixed color, wood grain is likely from trees grown on hillsides whereas the more blonde colored wood is from valleys where trees received more water. Generally, olive trees can bear fruit for 500-1,000 years. Tradition states that olive trees presently in the Garden of Gethsemane have been growing since Jesus’ day.
We have olive wood products here in the church. Our friends in Bethlehem appreciate all the support we have shown them. You can browse or buy anytime the office is open or on Sunday mornings. Items have been purchased for weddings, baptisms and baptism birthday celebrations, confirmation, Christmas and birthday, as well as an item for the individual themselves. Please feel free to check out the beautiful hand-crafted items.