A day focusing on Israel

Yesterday, sadly, we had to say good-bye to our outstanding guide Ibrahim Salameh, “Bethlehem’s Guiding Star” as it says on his business card. For the next two days we have the services of his brother Hassam. Today the focus was on learning more about the Jewish experience. After a quick visit to En Karem, the traditional birthplace of John the Baptist, the group visited Yad Vashem, the Holocaust memorial in West Jerusalem. The words in Hebrew mean “A monument and a name.” Photography was not allowed inside, but we were able to capture some of the architecture and outdoor sculpture. Needless to say, this was an unforgettable experience that will last a lifetime, and many students report learning things they never knew before about the Holocaust. After this, the group headed toward the Israel Museum with its 1/50 scale model of Jerusalem in the first century. The museum is also famous for its “Shrine of the Book” dedicated to preserving the original Dead Sea Scrolls. I was in my glory explaining the content of various scrolls on display to whomever happened to be nearby.  This place also allowed no indoor photography. We ended the day with a class session with Dr. Galia Press-Bar Nathan, Associate Professor of International Relations at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She talked about the relationship between economics and peace in a number of contexts, including the Israel/Palestine one. The lecture and follow-up discussion provided much food for thought. This evening we had a festive farewell dinner at the hotel. Tomorrow night’s meeting will be more of a class, as we prepare the students for the final written work they have to do upon their return in order to earn the two credits.


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