American Students in Nazareth Re-enacting Jesus Christ's Crucifixion

( [email protected] ) Apr 08, 2004 08:48 AM EDT

ISRAEL -- Local Arab Christians and volunteer students from the United States and Europe, some dressed as villagers and some as Roman soldiers bearing torches and spears, participated in the outdoor performance commemorating the passion of Jesus Christ in northern Israeli Arab town of Nazareth called "Nazareth Village," Wednesday, April 7.

The reenactments, which began last week and continue through Saturday, emphasize the betrayal by one of Jesus' disciples, Judas, and Jesus receiving brutal treatment from the Roman soldiers.

"It's really important for people to understand that this is the culmination of the life of a man who gave himself for reconciliation. It's not about condemnation," said Michael Hostetler, director of Nazareth Village

"It's a great show, to see how Jesus went through all of this for us," said Ihab Sayigh, 25, a Nazareth resident who works for a software company.

Nazareth Village, which opened in October 2000, draws many volunteers and about 10,000 visitors a year. Modern-day Nazareth is a city of 70,000, about one-third of them Christians.