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Midway between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, thirty kilometers from Gaza and near the town of Bet Shemesh, the hill of Bet Gemal, whose name in Hebrew means “the house of Gamaliel” and in Arab “the house of Beauty”, is similar to the hills of the Song of Songs. Marked by peace, light and silence, this natural and supernatural splendour fascinates the children of Abraham and leads them to adore the Creator, in their irresistable attraction to seek the living God and in their expectation of the Messiah. In the 5th century, this hill became famous when the relics of the first Christian martyr of Jerusalem were discovered: Saint Stephen. According to an ancient Judeo-Christian tradition, Saint Stephen was buried on the property of the famous rabbi Gamaliel, the teacher of Paul of Tarse, and a member of the Sanhedrin with Nicodeme and his son Abidas. It is this event that gives this place its history and its importance for Christians.
Until 1967, this hill was farmed by an agricultural school founded by the Salesian Fathers for the Arab children of the region. An unforeseen turn of events of a political nature led to its closing. The sons of Don Bosco continue courageously to cultivate part of the land ; there are still grain fields, vines and olive groves. Bedouins also come to pasture their troups. Sharing the same evangelical perspective, the Salesians and the communities of monks and of monastic sisters on this hill welcome numerous Israeli and Palestinian visitors and pilgrims from all over the world. In 1987, the Salesian Fathers generously offered the land where the monastery of the monastic sisters is now situated. André Nathan Chouraqui, who was the deputy mayor of Jerusalem and a well-known translator of the Bible and author of other works, encouraged the construction of this monastery in Israel.