Learning About Diverse Life in Israel

Blog image - Learning About Diverse Life in Israel

Delving Into History

On Monday we visited Emmaus Nicopolis Church in Abu Ghosh to learn about life in the land of Israel during the Middle Ages. We started the day by visiting the monastery and talking to Sister Illiana, a Catholic woman who had a very interesting story when it came to her connection to Judaism. Sister Illiana talked a lot about how she loves Judaism but felt that her purpose was to educate Christians, as a Christian, about Jews in order to rebuild a better interfaith relationship between the two peoples.

Afterwards, we headed to a park to take a pause to understand what the Jews were doing in the Middle Ages and talk about Islamic and Christian relations, to prepare us for our next talk with a woman who converted to Islam. At the park, we started by debriefing how we felt about meeting a nun and we were able to just voice our opinions. Briefly afterwards, the biology class had a take-over to educate us about Israeli plant life, specifically flowers, and to conduct a scavenger hunt around the park. We were split into groups of 3-4 and were sent off to identify flowers and their significance to Israeli culture. The prize for winning was fresh fruits and veggies. After the scavenger hunt, when the points were being tallied, we split into our Israel Studies classes and learned about the Middle Ages. 

Making History Real

We talked about the Crusades and Muslim-Christian conflicts in the region. Then, because Muss believes in experiential education, each class roleplayed a side, with my class being the Muslim population and the other class being the Christian Crusaders. We were in an area where a Christian Crusade tower still stands, and my class was able to try to lay siege to the castle. After we finished, the two classes were able to explore the ruins and climb all over.

Once we were done at the park we headed over to Ein Rafah where we met with a woman named Yasmin, who was from England originally but moved here and converted to Islam about twenty years ago. She explained to us a little about the religious aspect of Islam and then she took us on a tour of the village where she explained the village's history. After the tour, we shared tea and talked about the political side of things and her views. It was an interesting conversation that I know I’ll be able to pull on when forming my arguments surrounding Judaism. Overall it was interesting to hear another perspective.



My name is Molly Kodesch, I'm from Portland, Oregon and I'm a junior. I wanted to come to Israel because I wanted to learn more about Jewish culture and history and be able to visit my family living here. I felt that it was important to still come, even during this time, to show that Israel is still a place that I feel comfortable being and living in.