Monday, December 21, 2009

THE KANDO FAMILY BUSINESS is still operating:
Bethlehem souvenir shop still open


Dear Travel Diva: Is the Kando Store souvenir shop still open in Bethlehem in the West Bank? -- Middle East Wondering

Dear Wondering: Yes. "The store still open, and we are a family that will never ever think leaving our homes and our land that we've grown in, especially this city, the most holy city in this world," wrote owner Shibly Kando via e-mail. "We are like the fish; if it comes out from its water, it will die."

The Kandos are Christians, a minority in Bethlehem. The big store features antiques, jewelry and gifts made in the West Bank. Shibly Kando's grandfather, an antiques dealer, helped discover the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947.

"Tourism has picked up lately," Shibly Kando wrote. "We can say that it's a little better than before, but still if we compare with how it was before 2001, it's still not 10% of that yet."
Kando, of course, was the antiquities dealer who dealt with the first Dead Sea Scrolls. The article is a bit confusing: Kando's shop was in East Jerusalem (and I know it was still there at least into the late 1980s) although he also operated out of Bethlehem, where he had a cobbler's shop. Perhaps there is another family shop in Bethlehem? For more on Kando see here, here, here, and here.