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Holy Land Seminar Day #1

Our days are packed, so I am going to post a few brief sketches of our itinerary and activity, and fill out more details when I am able. But I wanted to share what I’ve been up to this week!

Woke up before dawn to get ready and get to Leonardo da Vinici Airport by 8:15, a little more than two hours before our flight is scheduled to leave.

Flying to Israel from Rome took a little over three hours. The Tel Aviv airport is one of the nicest I have seen in the world – the contrast with Fiumicino is on many levels striking. We were met by security officials who streamlined our passport review, and then met our guide, Yitzik, and bus driver, Ezra.

Diving from Tel Aviv on the caost, to Jerusalem in the mountains only takes about 40 minutes, and we get to the hotel a little before sunset. With a little time to check in, unpack and freshen up, we get a brief intro to the Jewish teachings and practices of Sabbath before heading to the home of Rabbi Donniel Hartman for a traditional Shabbat meal.

Oh, The singing!  The Shabbat songs are beautiful! It makes me wish I had not basically failed Hebrew!

What does it mean to be a Jew? What is Jewish Identity? Is it family? Is it faith? A people? A nation? These are the questions affecting life in Israel and Jews in general, and the topic of our dinner conversation. There is no consensus. Even when establishing the state of Israel, a definition could not be found, so the one used for the Right of Return is based on the working definition developed by, of all people, Adolf Hitler. If he would have murdered you, you can claim citizenship in Israel and “come home”. Beyond that, it is an open question.

Our first day in Israel was especially blessed. That is to say, it rained. A fine, soft rain like we get in Seattle, but a genuine blessing in a dessert!

My courses…

Allora… people have asked, and I keep forgetting to answer. This is my fall semester lineup:

The Catholic Church in Ecumenical Dialogue
     Rev. Dr. Frederick Bliss, SM, Professor incaricatus from New Zealand

Hebrew Bible, Human Rights, and Interreligious Dialogue
      Rabbi Jack Bemporad, visiting professor from the Center for Interreligious Studies, USA

Knowing the Christian East: Encounter and Experience
     Rev. Dr. Joseph Ellul, OP, professor incaricatus from Malta

Methodism and its Dialogue with the Catholic Church
     Rev. Dr. Trevor Hoggard, Methodist Representative to the Holy See, from U.K.
     Monsignor Donald Bolen, former staff of Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, from U.K.

Philo of Alexandria and his Influence on Early Christianity
      Dr. Adam Afterman, visiting professor from Hebrew University, Jerusalem

Prophecy and Wisdom
      Rabbi Jack Bemporad, visiting professor from the Center for Interreligious Studies, USA

Reception and Receptive Ecumenism
     Rev. Dr. Frederick Bliss, SM, Professor incaricatus from New Zealand

Russell Berrie Fellowship Seminar in Jerusalem (Feb 5-13)
     Various lecturers, coordinator: Dr. Adam Afterman of Shalom Hartman Center and Hebrew University

Social Teaching in Pope John Paul II
      Various Lecturers, coordinator: Sr. Dr. Helen Alford, OP, Dean of the faculty of Social Sciences, from U.K.

Sociologia della Conoscenza (Sociology of Knowledge, in Italian)
     Dr. Bennie Callebaut, visiting professor from Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium

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