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Are Bethlehem's Christians losing grip on their city?

(Times of Israel) Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun is concerned.

It’s nearly Christmas, but the leader of this famed little town – the first female to ever hold the role – says that tourists are not flocking to the events in the packed calendar she and her team have prepared for the month of December. In a bid to jumpstart the city’s most lucrative season, she launched Christmas early this year, lighting the massive tree at the center of Manger Square on December 1 and unveiling a packed four weeks of music, art and cultural happenings.

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But despite Bethlehem’s critical role in the story of Christmas and the life of Jesus, its shrinking Christian community this year is experiencing a rather lackluster holiday.