As part of the PhD Program at HUC-JIR, all of the students are given the opportunity to take a trip to Israel every-other-year. The trip is most expenses paid, and is a truly amazing opportunity for those who\’ve never visited Israel and even for those who already have. The trip centers itself around a 2-week stint at an archaeological dig (most years the dig occurs at at Dan, the HUC Site most famous for the Tel Dan Inscription) with another 3-5 weeks given to touring important sites around Israel, visiting notable museums, and soaking in the culture of Modern Israel. The trip is preceded by a pseudo-Ulpan (something necessary for those of us who specialize in Classical Hebrew) that provides the first step towards proficiency and fluency in Modern Hebrew. All together, the experience has been fantastic.
Most of the students had various starting points — Alabama, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, etc. — but a few of us met up in Philadelphia for the long flight to Tel Aviv. We were pretty exhausted by the time we arrived, since none of us slept well in the 16.4 cubic centemeters we had on the plane.
|From Left to Right: Guy Ridge (ANE), Matt Boersma (Rabinnics and Early Interpretation), Jared Saltz (Hebrew Bible and Greco Roman World)|
After waiting for the rest of the group, we all grabbed a sharut (a small bus), and headed to Jerusalem to go to sleep before our long day the next time around.
|From Left to Right: Matt Boersma, Jared Saltz, Andrew Higganbotham (Rabbinics), Baily Romano (Rabinnical Student), Guy Ridge, Ari Ballaban (5th Year Rabbinical Student)|
Our first day in Jerusalem, we had an excellent overview / refresher by the illustrious David Ilan (the professor and chief archaeologist of HUC Jerusalem) on the history and especially geography of Syria-Palestine / Biblical Israel, grabbed a quick lunch, and took a tour of Skirball Archaeological Museum and went to the Haas Promenade Overlook.
The view was spectacular, and David Ilan was able to use the panorama to talk about various aspects of the city, particularly to get a view of the \”forest\” before we started digging into the \”trees\” the next day. Thus far the trip has been a truly spectacular experience, and one that should not be missed.
In the meantime, I certainly recommend you go and check out the excellent work (both photos and blogging) of my fellow Matt Boersma, who\’s far more up-to-date on his blogging than I am (I\’ve linked his first entry, you can find the rest following that).