BETHLEHEM, West Bank — A Palestinian college student is one of the last keepers of a fading tradition — ringing the bells of Bethlehem.
Twice a week, Khadir Jaraiseh climbs to the roof of the Church of the Nativity, built over the grotto where tradition says Jesus was born. He pulls the ropes of four bells in a rooftop tower for a total of 33 times to symbolize the number of years Jesus was believed to have lived.
Jaraiseh rings the bells for prayer services of the Armenian Apostolic Church, one of three denominations that administer the basilica, one of Christianity’s holiest shrines. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox denominations at the Nativity church — each of which has its own set of bells — have switched to automatic bell-ringing.
But there’s something special about the traditional approach, said Jaraiseh, who uses both hands and a floor pedal to pull the ropes.
‘‘I feel like I’m making music and talking to God,’’ said the 22-year-old. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.