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Beit Jamal is a Catholic monastery that was built above the ruins of a Byzantine church in 1881. Today it belongs to the Salesian order. Tradition holds that this is the burial place of St. Stephen, who is believed to be the first Christian to be martyred for his religious beliefs. Stephen was one of seven deacons ordained to serve the Christian church in its earliest days. This is also identified as the burial site of Rabban Gamliel I, grandson of Hillel the Elder, who was President of the Sanhedrin (the Talmudic court). Rabban Gamliel is also considered as a major figure to the Christian faith, since he was rabbi and teacher to St. Paul prior to his conversion.
Some believe the name Beit Jamal (House of Beauty in Arabic) to have originated from the name Gamliel. Behind the main building are the remains of a Byzantine church, as well as a room designed as a synagogue and containing a Hebrew Bible and a seven-branched candelabra (or menorah) as a symbol of friendship towards the Jewish people
May 14th, 2012
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