My Good Friend in Bethlehem Dies – God Rest His Soul – All Our Pilgrims Knew Him

by Steve Ray on May 25, 2013

Efram Nissan, owner of Nissan Bros. store where we shop to help the local Christians, died last week of a heart attack. He was dancing at a family wedding surrounded by his 20 grandchildren. It was a shock to everyone.

He was known far and wide by the Christians in the Holy Land and did much to support the cause of Christians persecuted both by Jews and Muslims. Everyone will miss this heroic Christian. 

Everyone who has traveled with us to the Holy Land will remember Efram as the man who recited the OUR FATHER for us in the Aramaic, the language of Jesus. 

Over the years we became good friends. Several years ago he had quit smoking so every time we came to Bethlehem we brought him multiple packs of Orbit gum which he called “my new smokes.”

Efrem had met the last three popes and proudly was Christian in a world that persecutes Christians. He provided employment in Bethlehem (unemployment rate of 70%) for over 65 families.

We will sadly miss Efrem and our trips to Bethlehem will never be the same. God rest his soul!

Here is Efrem reciting the OUR FATHER for one of our groups. It is in Aramaic, the language of Our Lord.


  • Amy meadows says:

    Steve, condolences to the family. What a wonderful man. For those who have yet to travel with you, they will miss one of the best treasures. May Efrem rest in peace.

  • Suzanne Calvano says:

    So sorry to hear this news. One of my favorite memories of my trip to Israel (among so many!) was meeting him and hearing him recite the ‘Our Father’ in Aramaic. I still have the copy of the prayer he gave to all of us. It is framed and is one of my treasures. May God bring comfort and peace to his family. Eternal rest grant unto him, oh Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul and all the souls of the faithful departed rest in peace.

  • Tom Govern says:

    I will look forward to our conversations in heaven. I can’t even fake Aramaic. God bless him and especially his family at this time.

  • Mina Milburn says:

    Oh I am so sorry to hear about this, I know he will be missed by so many loved ones and friends! Rather a wonderful way to exit for him though! A wedding and grandchildren all around one moment, facing our Lord the next, sounds pretty perfect!

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