Baking Bread

in Tekoa near Bethlehem


Flour, rain water, salt and sourdough are kneaded in undulating rhythm at dusk and left to rise in the darkness.

In the morning, the risen dough is formed into balls.


The women bring the dough to the baking house, a rough stone enclosure with a tin roof.

Smouldering dung burns all day, keeping the taboun on the earthen floor warm and ready to receive.



The dough is pressed flat.




Dough is placed on the heated round rocks in the taboun.





Fresh dung is collected in the heap next to the stove-house


and added under the top layer then covered.


Proud grandmother brings the fragrant, warm bread to the family for breakfast each morning.


Mohammud, Fatma and their children.

Bread Blessing

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim


'Bishmillah' means 'in the name of the source of life'. 'rahman' and 'rahim ' are from the Semitic root R-H-M, meaning 'place of utmost tenderness that gives nourishing protection' - the worb for 'womb' in Hebrew and Arabic.


Aish - "life"

is an ancient Arabic word for the life processes of bread The baker blesses the dough with "Bismillah' before kneading. The family says 'Bismillah' before eating.

An oath of honor is sealed by touching bread. Disregard of bread is a sign of disrespect toward the Creator. If bread falls to the ground, it is kissed, saying "Bismillah" and returned to a clean place. Blessings are conveyed through bread prepared in a sacred place or offered by a holy person. Bread eaten together creates a bond of friendship, mutual obligation and protection.