I once visited Israel with a group of drama teachers. It was intriguing to see the places I’d read about from a young age and see how drama was being used in schools.
We stayed on a kibbutz for a few nights and had the fun of bathing in the Dead Sea, seeing the Golan Heights after which we climbed Masada, the rock face where 2000 years ago about 1000 Jewish people threw themselves off the precipice rather than surrender to the Roman Army.
We also visited Jerusalem, a fascinating city, where we were led to one of the stations of the cross – which happened to be in a primary school playground.
We also visited Nazareth which spreads out on the top of a steep hill. There we met an old wizened Arab with a huge smile, sparkly eyes and one tooth in the middle of his mouth.
He was an instant raconteur tour guide who began by announcing that the highlight of his tour would be to show us the room where Jesus went to school. After 2000 years I thought it unlikely but he assured us it was so. Without warning he suddenly stepped onto the zebra crossing where a driver performed an emergency stop to avoid hitting him. “You see,” he said, “my people stop for me.” This is going to be fun I thought.
He next took us to a church but mainly for gift purchase opportunities. I assumed he had a tie in. Everywhere we went he reminded us that we’d later see the room where Jesus went to school.
We then went on a roundabout tour of the town but I imagine not a trip undertaken by most tourists. It consisted of back streets and many yards festooned with full washing lines which we had to duck under.
Eventually we arrived at the street where the oft mentioned room would be. There was a long queue of what seemed American tourists. He took us straight to the top of the queue and asked us to wait by the gate. He walked the path to the door still pointing and miming to us that this was ‘the room.‘ He knocked on the door and when it was opened went into a deep discussion with the person on the other side. It abruptly ended with the door closing. They obviously told him to clear off.
He came back over to us and paused for dramatic effect. Then he spread his arms wide and shrugged his shoulders. “Well it’s only a room! “he announced and that was the end of our tour of Nazareth.
I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.