History

In the course of the nineteenth century, German missionary work in the Palestinian villages to the south of Jerusalem had established itself as a significant educational and ministerial presence. The German School in Bethlehem was founded in 1860 on land purchased by German missionaries for a Lutheran church and school. It was the first school in the area to admit both boys and girls, and word spread quickly of the high-quality education being offered there.

In the year 1900, a group of residents from Beit Sahour approached the German pastor in Bethlehem, Rev. Bettcher, and asked him to establish a school in their town so that they could offer their children a descent education. After counseling with his German colleagues in Palestine and Germany, it was agreed to help fund and organize the project and in 1901 they rented an old house in Beit Sahour. Mr. Suleiman Abu Diyyeh, an education specialist and teacher from the nearby town of Beit Jala, was hired to set up the school.

Mr. Abu Diyyeh began teaching a group of 40 boys and 25 girls in the rented building with merely two class-rooms. In 1902 the German missionaries purchased land for permanent facilities, and in 1904 the first school building was completed and opened. Soon after the school was founded, it was formally recognized by the state. The school flourished throughout the turbulent years of the twentieth century, experiencing considerable growth, while remaining flexible to meet the needs of the Beit Sahour community. During and following the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, the Lutheran World Federation – which took over the school-coordination in 1946 – cooperated with the school to open a soup kitchen on the school’s premises to feed Palestinian refugee children and families displaced during the war.

Upper classes were gradually added to the school during the following decades. Whereas the school only had classes up to 6th grade in the 50’s, by the 70’s 9th grade was also being taught. Grade 12 was finally added in 1997. In the spring of 1998 the Evangelical-Lutheran School in Beit Sahour graduated its first class of high-school students