2012 Auburn-AJC Seminarian Program Blog

The third cohort of Jewish and Christian seminary students traveling together to Israel and the West Bank arrived on Wednesday, January 4, 2012. For background on the program, see the program's main page. Enjoy the posts and pics below for a more intimate look at the program.            

Full group on top of the White Mosque in Nazareth, after meeting with the mosque's caretaker Mr. Atef Fahum and other Muslim leaders from the village.



The group has been to the Galilee, Jerusalem, and is currently in Bethlem through Tuesday morning, after which time they will return to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

From Jenn Lindsay, Union Seminary grad and Boston College PhD student, 7 January 2012

I arrived at Gate 6 in Terminal 3 at JFK an hour before departure to Tel Aviv. It was technically yesterday, but due to the flight and the travel I’ve only scraped together some shallow dozes, and the day has gone far past its expiration hour. At the gate there were lots of Orthodox families, big fur hats, wigs, little boys and their daddies with matching peyes, awful sweaters, fringes, big black velvet toppings. My distaste surged. I reflected on the miserly hostility I feel at the most conservative branch of my faith family. Is it Israel I resist, or the ultra-Orthodox? Do I oppose their theology, their politics, their lifestyles, their culture, their gender policies, their food, or their fashion? If I oppose all of them, which is the most resonant of my aversions? Which are based in total ignorance and arrogance and lack of contact? Which aversions might dissipate upon further contact and contemplation? I’m flying to Israel to find out this time as an adult... [Continue reading on Jenn's blog page at State of Formation, where she is blogging throughout the trip.]

From Matthew Arlyck, Union Seminary student, 6 January 2012

This morning presented an interesting take on the issue of Israel’s security vis-à-vis its neighbors.  We left Tiberias by the Sea of Galilee and drove north into the Golan Heights with our speaker of the day, Yisrael Ne’eman, to learn about the history of the struggle with surrounding Arab nations and the current realities of the Israel-controlled Golan.  As our mini-bus wound its way into the thick winter fog of the mountain passes, Yisrael discussed Middle East history from the 19th century to the present, particularly the effects of empire and colonialism on Middle Eastern nation-states and the ways that Western powers became invested in supporting Arab states in order to gain a foothold in the Middle East against the Ottoman Empire.  We walked out on the Western escarpment in the fog and Yisrael talked about the young state of Israel gaining part of the Golan after 1947 and then the decades of fighting for the remaining parts of the Golan overlooking Syria until the Six-     Day War.  The morning was far too foggy to have a view of Syria, but Yisrael discussed the meaning of the Valley of Tears, which is so named because of the traumatic deaths on both sides of the conflict between Israel and Syria. 

Yisrael attempted to provide a balanced perspective on the conflict for the Golan; however, his commitment is primarily one of security rather than diplomacy and he presented the holding of the Golan as critical to Israel’s continuing existence as a secure state.  What struck me the most about this morning was the idea that such a small plot of land – only a few miles in total – has become in the past 60 years the focus of so much strife, pride, misery and hope.



A conversation with Father Emile Shoufani, Melkite Catholic priest in Nazareth, who organized 350 Muslims, Catholics and Jews from Israel to visit Auschwitz in 2003.