“Jerusalem Center Reopens Programs to Students,” Ensign, Aug. 2006, 73
After a five-year closure to its student study-abroad program, BYU’s Center for Near Eastern Studies in Jerusalem will again open to students this fall.
“Over here [in Jerusalem], people are ecstatic,” said Jim Kearl, BYU’s assistant to the president for the Jerusalem Center. “Not just the people who work in the building but vendors in the city and good friends that have known the students for years are really excited to have the students returning.”
Students, who will live at the Jerusalem Center, will travel on field trips across the Holy Land about twice a week to biblical and historical sites that are correlated directly with their curriculum.
The course curriculum covers ancient and modern Near Eastern history, modern Near Eastern languages, and the Old and New Testaments. In addition to field trips in Israel, students are scheduled to travel to Egypt and Jordan.
One aspect of BYU’s mission at the Jerusalem Center is to help students develop a deepened understanding and testimony of the scriptural record of Jehovah’s dealings with the prophets in ancient times and with Christ’s appearance in His time, Brother Kearl says.
“You come to see the scriptures in a whole different way when you see the land,” he explains.
The other part to the Jerusalem Center’s mission is to help students understand the area’s culture.
“We want students to have an appreciation for Islamic culture and Palestinians,” Brother Kearl says. “And we want them to have an equally well-developed appreciation for Jewish culture and Israelis and to come to understand more of the cultures that are here and something of the tragic conflict that has these people tied to one another.”
Although the U.S. State Department has issued a travel advisory for the Holy Land, BYU officials consulted with government and Church leaders before resuming the program.
The student program was closed in 2001, after violence broke out in Jerusalem during the fall 2000 semester. However, the Jerusalem Center had remained open to host concerts, workshops, tours, and visitors.
The Jerusalem Center, located on Mount Scopus overlooking the oldest part of Jerusalem, has classrooms, a library, a learning center, auditoriums, student and faculty apartments, a gymnasium, and a cafeteria for students. Instructors at the center include BYU faculty members and local part-time faculty.
“Part of the building’s purpose was this education program, and so it sort of comes to life again as we bring students back,” Brother Kearl says.
The fall student program is opened to a limited number of 44 BYU juniors and seniors selected from several applications submitted June 26–July 7. The fall program runs September to December with subsequent winter, spring, and summer programs planned.
For more information about the Jerusalem Center, visit http://ce.byu.edu/jc.