Book of the Month 2

Bethlehem Record 366

By Khalil Shokeh
Published by Dar Al Sabagh Diaspora Studies and Research Centre and Khalil Shokeh, April 2019
35 pages in English, and 60 pages in Arabic, US$ 10.00
Semi-hard cover with historical photographs, some published for the first time.
Reviewed by George Alama

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Writing about Bethlehem revives stagnant waters, instigates courage, sharpens the resolve, and revives memory.

This book is a historical documentation of deeds and legal records. Record number 366 is one of the 416 records obtained from the Jerusalem Shari’a court. It covers 109 documents that pertain to Bethlehemites. The Shari’a court records include basic information on economic and social conditions, as well as legal matters. The Shari’a courts had a significant and constructive role and influence on society. All cases, instructions, decrees, and deeds were kept in the Shari’a courts. Record 366 covers the historical period from 1292 AH (1874) to 1301 AH (1883). The court session hearings were held at the Saraya Building in Bethlehem.

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Mr. Shokeh has carefully read and indexed each document, categorizing it according to the topic addressed and offering an analysis. The documents include deeds of land purchase and details of ownership, as well as documentation of internal disputes, appraisals, and inheritance, in addition to some documents related to the administration of the district.

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This body of research is an attempt to understand the experiences of Bethlehemites and their contributions and ideas that previously shaped Bethlehem society.