Selected Spring Semesters Westmont in Jerusalem
Jesus wandered here. You should too.
Make Jerusalem home for the semester. Wander the labyrinth of the Old City. Banter in markets where shopkeepers know your name. Prep for class in your favorite café. Learn the rhythms of the Holy City, where Jews welcome Sabbath at the Western Wall, where Muslims stream to the Al Aqsa mosque for prayers, where Christians reenact Jesus’ journey to the cross. Three peoples jostle for space in the streets of Jerusalem. So will you.
You will learn to inhabit three worlds: some days you will explore the ancient world of Jesus and find new meaning in his old stories; other days you will inhabit the modern world of Israel-Palestine where two peoples struggle for the same land, and where fear fuels conflict, and where conflict provokes fear. You will drink tea with Palestinian refugees; you will mourn the Holocaust and celebrate Passover with Jews.
Journey beyond Jerusalem throughout Israel, the West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon. Live with host families in Bethlehem where Jesus was born. Hike the Galilee where Jesus healed the sick and welcomed outcasts. Float on the Dead Sea, raft on the Jordan River and snorkel among ruins in Herod the Great’s Mediterranean harbor. Climb mountains to watch the sunrise, ride camels across the desert in Jordan, hear stories from Syrian refugees, and explore limestone caves in Lebanon. All while practicing colloquial Arabic.
As you travel the Holy Land, learn to understand the pain of two traumatized peoples. Listen to experts. Hike with local guides. Study the documents that shaped history, and feel the weight of big ideas. Find your voice.
Westmont in Jerusalem is both disciple’s journey and student’s quest. It is challenge and reward. It is adventure and exhaustion. Don’t take the Holy Land speed tour. Stay for a while.
Jesus lingered here. Maybe you should too?
How we roll
Westmont in Jerusalem believes in cultural immersion. That means we like to live simply, travel light, and stay with local families or in family-owned hotels, hostels, pilgrim houses, agricultural communities, and bedouin camps. We practice the local dialect, learn the local customs, and use public transport rather than tour buses whenever possible. If you are hoping for upscale hotels and hop-on-hop-off tours, WIJ may not be for you. But . . if you are passionate to learn, eager for adventure, and ready to leave your comfort zone, if you want to explore the roots of your faith on location if you want to follow in Jesus' footsteps but don't want to neglect people in the Land today, and if you are curious, hard-working, and flexible.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about upcoming programs.
We begin the semester in Vienna with 3 days of orientation and on-location learning about the roots of nationalism, Zionism, and antisemitism, themes crucial for making sense of the modern Middle East and the birth of Israel.
Ten days in Lebanon and Jordan, countries rich in beauty and history, and central in importance for understanding regional conflicts. Visit Beirut, Tripoli, the Bekaa Valley, a Shia mosque in Tyre, a Sunni mosque in Sidon, and Orthodox churches. In Jordan stay in old Amman, hike Roman decapois cities, and discover John the Baptist's baptism site on the Jordan river.
Live with host families, study Arabic, build friendships, visit refugee camps, take field trips, climb the fortress tomb of Herod the Great, volunteer, worship with local Christians, pray in the Church of the Nativity.
Make Jerusalem your home, both the Old Jerusalem and the new. Tour the Holocaust museum, Mount Herzl and the Knesset. Walk the Ottoman walls. Ascend to the Temple Mount. Pray at the Western Wall. Study Arabic and the Israel-Palestine conflict. Begin studying Islam and Judaism.
Continue studying Islam, the Conflict, and the world of Jesus. Drink from Jacob’s well. Visit the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim. Move between Palestinian towns and Jewish settlements.
Hike the “Jesus Trail” and explore Jesus’ home turf. Sail the Sea of Galilee. Raft the Jordan River. Hike Roman ruins in the Golan Heights, in the foothills of Mount Hermon. Explore the coastal cities of medieval Akko, modern Haifa, Tel Aviv and Old City Jaffa. Swim in the Mediterranean.
Return to Jerusalem, your home base, to continue studying Judaism and Jesus. Swim the Dead Sea, scale the fortress of Masada to watch the sun rise, explore the ruins of Qumran, and see Dead Sea Scrolls. Celebrate the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, and Jewish feasts of Purim and Passover. Ascend the Mount of Olives to celebrate Palm Sunday. Celebrate the resurrection on Easter morning in Jerusalem.
Traverse the Negev (Israel’s desert), walk the rim of the Ramon Crater. Depart Israel from Eilat, its southern tip. Enter Aqaba, Jordan. Snorkel the Red Sea. Live with bedouin in magical Wadi Rum. Hike into Petra. Fly back from Amman to Vienna.
Academic Coursework: Earn 16 credits and satisfy 5 General Education requirements. Prerequisite: 1 unit WIJ Orientation class, fall semester, 2020. Schedule an appointment to learn more about our programs at email@example.com.
Taught by Bruce Fisk
Satisfies GE Thinking Historically requirement
A study of Jesus in the Gospels and in historical, cultural and physical contexts, both Jewish and Roman. What was distinctive about Jesus? What did he share with the Judaism of his day? How did his life and message embrace the marginal and provoke the establishment.
History and politics (2 units) lectures by David. Holt; field work, tours, briefings, writing (2 units)
Satisfies GE Understanding Society requirement
A study of relations between Israelis and Palestinians, including a review of recent history, an assessment of current events, an introduction to Christian Zionism, and a consideration of prospects for a just and peaceful resolution to the conflict.
Islam (2 units) taught by local Muslim professors
Judaism ( 2 units) taught by local Jewish scholar Ophir Yarden
Satisfies GE Thinking Globally requirement
Focused study of two major world religions--Judaism and Islam--on location, exploring theology, traditions and contextual expression. Students encounter living expressions of these two religious traditions, and learn to show respect, fairness, and humility as they approach the subject matter and engage in discussion.
Taught by Nasra Dahdal
Satisfies GE Foreign Language requirement
Basic skills in speaking and understanding colloquial Levantine Arabic, the dialect used throughout Palestine, Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Focus on pronunciation, vocabulary, language structure, idioms, and grammar, as well as basic reading and writing in Arabic script.
Satisfies GE Physical Education Activity requirement
Designed to foster a healthy lifestyle while abroad. Includes various outdoor activities (hiking, rafting, snorkeling, climbing), engagements with Palestinian and Israeli culture (e.g., traditional dance, trail conversations, basketball, soccer), and guidelines for healthy eating.
Professor Fisk taught at Westmont from 1999 to 2019 and during that time led 10 Westmont study-abroad programs (7 in the Middle East). Author of A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Jesus, Bruce loves to study Jesus in the Land, apocalyptic literature, Christian Zionism and Biblical interpretation. He enjoys hikes, long motorcycle treks, blues harmonica, and sweet Arab tea especially on a cool desert morning.
After a business career in Peru, Alessandra moved to Bethlehem, her grandparents' hometown, where she learned Hebrew and Arabic, studied the history of the Israel-Palestine conflict, earned a graduate degree from Hebrew University, and met her husband, Bruce. She is a gifted polyglot (7 languages so far) who loves Palestinian cuisine, long walks, and even longer historical documentaries.
A veteran language teacher, recently from both Bethlehem University and the CCCU program based in Jerusalem. Nasra has taught Palestinian Arabic to many internationals and will guide a 4-week intensive Arabic class early in the semester.
Dr. Holt directed the Middle East Studies Program for the CCCU in Cairo and Jerusalem for 12 years, where his students studied Islam, Arabic, and regional conflicts. David now designs and teaches courses in international politics, national security, and US foreign policy. He will teach the module on Israel-Palestine.
Mr. Yarden, an observant Jew from Jerusalem, serves on the Interreligious Coordinating Council in Israel and is Senior Lecturer at Brigham Young University, Jerusalem campus. A brilliant and gifted lecturer, Ophir will teach the module on Judaism.
What it costs
The cost of the program matches the cost of a semester on Westmont’s campus (tuition, fees, room and board). This includes all program expenses (flights, transportation, accommodation, courses, admissions, tours, supplemental insurance) with one exception: students are separately responsible for travel costs from the U.S. to Vienna, and home from Vienna after the program is over.