By Beth Katz, Director of Project Interfaith
In two weeks, I will travel for the first time to Israel. But my trip to Israel is not what one might expect for a nice Jewish girl from Omaha seeing the holy land for the first time. Instead of traveling with other Jews or with my family, I will be journeying with thirty (yes, count ‘em 30) Catholic school educators from across the United States who are participating in a program called National Bearing Witness Advanced Summer Institute for Catholic School Educators put on by the Anti-Defamation League and the Archdiocese of Washington, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, in cooperation with the National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) and the United States Conference for Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Through this program, the educators build on their knowledge of the history of anti-Semitism, the history of the Holocaust, the history and evolution of Jewish-Christian relations, and the meaning of Israel to the Jewish People.
Now you might be wondering why I would want my first trip to Israel to be tagging along with a bunch of Catholic school educators. Well, I hope to organize an interfaith trip to Israel for our area and wanted to see what sorts of experiences, contacts and places would be important to include in such a trip. This trip should give me a good starting point. We will be visiting both Jewish and Christian sites of importance including the Western Wall, Nazareth, Mt. of Beatitudes, Massada, and the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.
I also am looking forward to experiencing the holy land with Christians. So often, I forget the significance that Israel holds for Christians and Muslims. I know for many of the Catholic school educators on this trip (by the way, I should mention that not all the Catholic School Educators are Catholic- but I believe they are all Christian), this will be their first time in Israel. I am curious what will resonate with them, how this experience shapes their identity and faith as Christians, and if this at all alters their views of Jews and Judaism. Likewise, I wonder if this experience will alter my views on Christians and Chrsitianity.
Have you been to Israel with an interfaith group? If so, let me know about it. Post your recommendations for key places, people and experiences to include. And if you ahve been to Israel-regardless if it is with an interfaith group- and have suggestions, post those as well.