Lecture: David Nekrutman
David is a prominent figure in the world of Jewish-Christian relations and is the Executive Director of the Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation and Co-Founder of the Day to Praise global iniative. In addition, Nekrutman is a columnist who has written for the Jerusalem Post, Charisma Magazine and The Times of Israel.
Lecture: Steven Khoury
Steven Khoury pastors the Largest Arab Evangelical Church in the East Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories. He has degrees in Pastoral Ministry and Theology, and is a renowned speaker, Tv personality, and religious writer for Al-Quds, the largest Arabic newspaper in the Holy Land. Preaching the message of Christ to Arab in the region has often put him at risk, making his church a target of retaliation over the years. Even so, Steven’s mission is to share God’s love with the lost and hurting.
Lecture: Professor Reuven Hazan
Professor Reuven Hazan is the Chair of Department of Political Science at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Hazan was closely involved in reforming Israel’s electoral system and continues to advise Israel’s leading politicians on restructuring of its legislative branch. He collaborates with Israel’s top think tanks, serves as a consultant for several political parties, is often called upon to testify in the Israeli parliament, and has served on the Presidential Commission on the Structure of Government in Israel. Professor Hazan is a frequents commentator on CNN, FOX, BBC, NPR and other networks, providing insights into the latest developments in Israeli politics. He has been quoted in magazines such as Time and Newsweek and in newspapers across North America from Los Angeles Times to the Wall Street Journal. Born in Jerusalem, Professor Hazan is a ninth generation Israeli. In his spare time, he enjoys discovering boutique vineyards in Israel that produce world-class red wines.
Israel’s Parliament is located in the capital, Jerusalem. The Knesset passes all laws, approves the cabinet, elects the President and Prime Minister (as well as the power to remove them) and elects the State Comptroller, who supervises the policies and operation of the government.
There are four typoes of committees within the Knesset; Permanent Committee, who amend certain legislations according to their specialized area, Special Committee, who are similar to permanent but deal with particular matters at hand, Parliamentary Committee, who deal with importanat national matters, and the Ethics Committee who is responsible for jurisdiction over members in the Knesset who have violated the ethics code.
I loved learning a new form of government and seeing the way a much smaller country operates politically.
The Israel Museum:
Located in the neighborhood of Givat Ram in Jerusalem, the Israel Museum was founded in 1965 as the country’s first national museum. With nearly 500,000 objects randing from prehistory artifacts to present day technology, Jewish art and the most extensive holdings of biblical archaeology, it was ranked among the world’s leading art and archeology museums.
Yah Vashem: Holocaust Memorial/Museum
In order to understand how the current state of Israel came to exist, it is important to look at the Holocaust for pretext. The Holocaust was the systematic, bureaucratic, state-sponsored persecution and murder of six million Jews by the Nazi regime and its collaborators. While the rest of the world were counting the dead after WWII, the Jews were counting the living. Despite the tragedy of the Holocaust, it was the key factor in the rest of the world realizing that the Jews needed their own homeland. As the Jewish people’s living memorial to the Holocaust, Yad Vashem safeguards the memory of the past and imparts its meaning for future generations. Established in 1953, as the world center for documentation, research, and education and commemoration of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is today a dynamic and vital place of intergenerational and international encounter
This experience was extrememly powerful and very different than all of the Holocaust museums I have visited in the United States (Lost Angeles, Michigan and Washington D.C. sites)
The Dead Sea:
“Then the boundary will go down along the Jordan and end at the Dead Sea. This will be your land, with its boundaries on every side.” – Numbers 34:12
The Dead Sea is a salt lake river 400 m below sea level. It is the lowest point on dry land. In Hebrew, it is called Yam ha-Melah, meaning “sea of salt” (Genesis 14:3). In the Bible, the Dead Sea is also called the Salt Sea, the Sea of the Arabah, and the Eastern Sea. It lies in the Jordan Rift Valley with the Jordan River being its main tributary. The Dead Sea has attracted visitors from around the Mediterranean basin for thousands of years. In the Bible, it is a place of refuge for King David. It was one of the world’s first health resorts (for Herod the Great), and it has been the supplier of a wide variety of products, from asphalt for Egyptian mummification to potash for fertilizers. People also use the salt and the minerals from the Dead Sea to create cosmetics and herbal sachets. The Dead Sea water has density of 1.24 kg/litre, which makes swimming similar to floating.
On top of a rock plateau in western Judean Desert, overlooking the Dead Sea, sits Masada, an ancient fortification built by Herod the Great between 37 and 31 BC. Most information concerning Masada was obtained from the records of Josephus Flavius, a 1st century Jewish Roman historian. According to Josephus, the Masada Fortress included a casemate wall around the entire plateau as well as storehouses, cistern water places and an armory.
Ein Gedi/En Prat:
King David took refuge in Ein Gedi when being pursued by King Saul. It is a nature reserve situated on the shore of the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth, and is widely known for its health spas. Tourists from all over the world go to Ein Gedi and take advantage of its hot springs and mineral waters.
EnPrat is a layer spring located near the Jordan Valley with an average daily flow of 1500 cubic meters. Because of its unique location, a diverse ecosystem has been cultivated with various types of plants and animals.
In 1947, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls by a Bedovin shepord, revolutionize the study of the Hebrew Bible and Judeo-Christian origins. Despite the age of the scrolls, they were very well preserved due to the tall clay jars with lids stil intact. Since then, heavy excavations have been conducted with the discovery of 981 different texts and thousands of fragments of scrolls. The Qumran raves are located in the West Bank near the Dead Sea.
Jaffa (The ancient port city)
Jaffa, also called Japho is an ancient port located in the oldest part of Tel Aviv-Jaffa. It is famous for its association with the biblical stories of Jonah, Solomon and St. Peter. Jaffa is a major tourist attraction with an exciting combination of old, new and restored buildings. It offers art galleries, souvenir shops, exclusive restaurants, sidewalk cafes, boardwalks and shopping opportunities. It offers a rich variety of culture, entertainment and food (fish restaurants). The city is noted for its export of the famous Jaffa oranges.
We walked through the ancient port, the site from which the prophet Jonah fled from God, and where Peter restored Tabitha to life and stayed with Simon the Tanner. In recent years, Old Jaffa Port has been developed as a cultural attraction, whilst retaining its operations as a working port from where fishermen head off into the Mediterranean each night.
“And he went and lived in a town called Nazareth. So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets, that He would be called a Nazarene.” –Matthew 2:23
Nazareth is the largest city in the North District of Israel. It is also known as “the Arab capital of Israel”. The population is made up predominantly of Arab citizens of Israel, almost all who are either Muslim (around 69%) or Christian (around 30%). Nazareth is the childhood home of Jesus, and as such is a center of Christian pilgrimage, with many shrines commemorating biblical events.
I learned a lot from a site called “Nazareth Village”, which was made to look like it would have during the times of Jesus’ childhood. It made me think of the Bible passage that says, “What good would come from a town like Nazareth?” and it is important to know that Jesus as a leader rose up from something very unlikely to be a revolutionary world changer, and the ultimately the savior of the world. Personally I love great stories that stem from “small” beginnings.
The last site we visited in Nazareth bothered me and really did not sit well with me, as we visited a Holy site that was claimed and run by the Catholic Church. I found a few places in Israel to be similar to this as well, and I felt that some of these religious groups really commercialized something that has so much spiritual meaning. At this site you even had to pay to use the restroom. As a leader, this bothered me, and if I had any say in the way this site was run, I would say that people who come all the way to Israel to visit the Holy sites should be able to use the restroom for free, and that it should be a basic human right. I would also go to say that it gets messy and corruption begins to occur when you start charging people and over commercializing places that are so important to people’s faith roots.
Mt. Precipice, just outside the southern edge of Nazareth, offers several biblical narratives, both from the Old and New Testaments. First, the view from the mountain provides a visual of Mt. Carmel (Elijah) to the west, the Jezreel Valley below, and Mt. Tabor (traditional site of the Transfiguration) and the Sea of Galilee to the east. Second, this is the spot widely believed to be the place in Luke 4 where Jesus was chased out of the Nazareth synagogue to the brow of a cliff until he escaped “through the crowd and went on his way”
As I am particularly interested in the Old Testament I really loved this site, and it had the most beautiful view.
Lecture: Dr. Faydra Shapiro
Dr. Shapiro is a specialist in contemporary Jewish-Christian relations, with a focus on evangelical Christian-Jewish relations. She has published and presented extensively on the topic of Christian Zionism and evangelical Christian support for Israel. She received her PhD in 2000 and her first book received a National Jewish Book Award in 2006. Prior to joining Yezreel Valley College (A college right in the heartland of the Galilee region and serving a very diverse population of Israeli society), Dr. Shapiro was a university professor for over a decade in a department of Religion and Culture in Toronto, Canada. A dynamic speaker with extensive experience teaching both Christians about Judaism and Jews about Christianity, Faydra is proud to live in Galilee with her family and is proud of her faith.
Dr. Shapiro had to be one of my favorite lectures on this trip and one of the greatest learning moments. She opened up with stating that she was very rarely offended and she wanted our group to ask absolutely anything we could think of, as it was the safest space to do so and in order to best love our Jewish brothers and sisters, we must ask questions. She encouraged us to ask the awkward things we were wondering about the Jewish faith and practices. I loved where it was going right from the start, because Faydra was a leader that wasn’t afraid to be authentic and transparent. Her honesty fostered a greater learning community and I believe most of the students in this lecture left with new ideas, different opinions and a lot to think about. Now that is a piece of leadership I can take with me! She wasn’t afraid of the uncomfortable and pushing the limits, but did so in a respectable way.
Dr. Shapiro explained what “making aliyah” means, something very important to some Jews. Essentially it means making the trip to the homeland, or moving back to Israel or Jerusalem, as her family did.
In her segment of “What Jews don’t get about Christians” she mentioned: sometimes we make them anxious/nervous, how serious we take the bible or Jesus (especially since most are just Jewish since birth), they don’t trust the Zionism/support for Israel, and often think there are ulterior motives. Someone asked the question of “What do Jews see Messianic Jews (Jewish people that believe in Jesus), and she said they typically shame them or don’t count them to be truly Jewish. She talked about Jewish opinions on Jesus, and concluded that most thought he was good, but definitely not the Messiah. Another student question was “What do Jewish people think about Christians praying for, carrying about, etc. Israel?” and she said they still don’t trust it. It makes sense when you think of 2,000 years worth of persecution and bad history. This made me hope and pray that I can help be apart of the changing that mentality. I have some really good Jewish friends back in the U.S. that know my intentions of loving them are pure, but on a grander scale I hope to work towards more unity. We worship the same God when it comes down to it!
In her segment “What Christians don’t get about Jews” she touched on: Jews rarely taking their bible seriously, how we accept the authority of the New Testament, how we should spend more time learning and less time teaching, how we don’t know our history and roots, and she suggested that we should just listen, and stop talking so much (to better understand).
I have too many take aways to list in a small reflection, but overall this was an amazing lecture that really helped me understand different perspectives! To be a leader you must be well rounded, willing to adapt and open-minded to different beliefs, cultures and people.