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The Khoury family has lived in Taybeh for at least 600 years. The brothers’ grandfather served as the pastor of the local Orthodox parish. As children, they attended school in nearby Ramallah. But as young adults, conflict and the resulting dearth of educational and economic opportunities drove the brothers to set out for the United States, where they completed their studies and lived for several years.

“We came back after the Oslo Agreement. First, my brother Nadim came in 1994 and I myself followed in 1999,” says Daoud Khoury, who since 2005 has served as Taybeh’s mayor.

“I wanted to do something for my small village. It is important to me to keep Taybeh a Christian village in Palestine. I mean no prejudice, but we are surrounded by 16 Muslim villages and live with them peacefully,” explains Mayor Khoury. “But, I and my fellow citizens feel it is a treasure that we inherited this land from our great–grandfathers. They passed down the land from generation to generation and did not sell it, even though they were probably in need back then. We feel it is our duty to preserve the land and keep Taybeh Christian.”

Since opening its doors, Taybeh Brewery has steadily earned a local and international reputation for its high quality, all–natural selection of beers, which includes a popular golden stout and nonalcoholic alternative.

Though Israeli occupation, checkpoints and the separation barrier make distribution difficult and costly, the brewery nonetheless produces some 16,000 gallons of beer a year, selling it throughout the region and beyond. Taybeh Brewery already exports its beer to Japan and runs a franchise in Germany. It now plans to export the beer to and possibly open a franchise in the United States.

Impressed by the locals’ hospitality, the 12th–century Sultan Saladin of Egypt and Syria first named the village Taybeh, or “good” in Arabic, when he and his infantry passed through.

However, Taybeh also means “delicious.” These days, locals more often associate the village with its delicious beer and annual Oktoberfest.

Every October for the last six years, Taybeh Brewery has hosted an Oktoberfest in the village. Organized by Dr. Maria Khoury, the mayor’s wife, the festival serves as a showcase for all that the village and its residents have to offer. Though the main attraction may be beer, the festival brings together local vendors, who sell fresh produce, olive oil, soap and cosmetics, ceramics and traditional Palestinian embroidery. The village’s social clubs and associations stage traditional music, dance and theater performances.

On average, the two–day Oktoberfest draws some 16,000 visitors to the village. Local government, business and church leaders all get involved in the festival, which they hope will increase tourism, attract new businesses, create jobs and generate income for residents.

With so many residents emigrating and in recent years selling their property, Taybeh’s leaders — secular and religious — worry about the future of the village and its distinct Christian identity.

“In the last three or four years, we have seen a wave of people coming back and trying to sell their land,” says Mayor Khoury.

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Tags: Christianity Palestine Cultural Identity Emigration Melkite Greek Catholic Church