This past June, SFL took thirteen students and nine adults to tour Israel for two weeks. The group stayed in Jerusalem for five days, and then went as far south as Mitzpe Ramon, as far north as the Golan Heights, and finally ended up in Tel Aviv.
The highlights of the trip included a tour of the security fence between Israel and the West Bank, studying the Bible with Professor Patrick Allitt (our guest professor), and touring Jerusalem. A more complete list of the attractions on the Israel trip can be found here: http://www.schoolingforlife.org/what-we-do/
Tour of the Security Fence
SFL was privileged to attend a tour guided by Colonel Danny Tirza, who personally helped design the security fence which separates Israel from the West Bank. As the SFL group stood on a small hill above the fence, overlooking the West Bank, Colonel Tirza explained prior to the fence’s construction, Palestinian suicide bombers had been crossing freely into Israel and murdering innocent civilians.
Since the building of the fence, Palestinians have not ceased to threaten Israeli civilians. In fact, between 5 to 20 Palestinian would-be murderers are caught every day by the IDF soldiers monitoring the security cameras around the fence.
But Israel has been remarkably considerate of the Palestinian civilians who live within its borders. Not even one Palestinian home was destroyed or evacuated during the construction of the security fence.
Almost every evening after the day’s activities were completed, Patrick Allitt, Professor of History at Emory University (http://history.emory.edu/home/people/faculty/allitt-patrick.html), taught an optional Bible study class.
Professor Allitt exposed the students to a new method of learning the Bible. He asked the students to take turns reading an English translation of the text out loud and comment on it. Even students who had never previously thought extensively about the stories they read found that they had opinions and beliefs about the text.
Reading from the Bible every night after visiting Biblical sites during the day helped most of the students connect to the Bible on a new level.
Many of the students in our group had never been to Israel, and were intrigued by the blend of antiquity and modernity evident in Jerusalem. When we visited the Western Wall—which was the retaining wall of the Second Temple’s courtyard—the area was filled with IDF soldiers being sworn in to the military.
Our group was reminded that although Israel currently controls land that is holy to both Jews and Christians, the land did not always belong to Israel. Thanks to the brave IDF soldiers, Israel is able to defend the country, and the Western Wall is accessible those of any religion who wish to visit it.