Teaching and Learning in Jerusalem
Byline: Kate Tsubata, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Home-schoolers from Maryland, Virginia, California, Ohio and North Carolina were part of an educational and humanitarian exchange program with the municipality of Jerusalem in February.
The Jerusalem-United States Multicultural Project, or JUMP, was a joint project between WAIT (Washington AIDS International Teens); Service for Peace; and Jerusalem's youth division, including its Multicultural Dance Troupe.
Of the 21 youth participants, more than half were home-schooled. The trip was both a working trip and an educational one. The group was trained before leaving in the HIV/AIDS information and performing-arts techniques of the WAIT team in order to perform throughout Israel. Also, participants studied Israel itself: the people, the history and the nation's situation.
Because the U.S. group was partnering with the Multicultural Dance Troupe, languages became important for us to learn. Hebrew, Arabic and English are official languages in Israel, and there are 1 million recent Russian immigrants and several hundred thousand immigrants from Ethiopia, Morocco and other nations around the globe. The children picked up key phrases in Hebrew and Arabic and taught a lot of English, as well.
During the trip, we were able to visit many of the natural and historical wonders of the region. We visited the ultrasalty Dead Sea, a half-mile lower than sea level, and the refreshing Ein Gedi springs, which are right next door.
We toured the tunnels under the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem that reveal the covered sections of the Western Wall of the temple, and we learned about the ways various religions and populations transformed the architecture and infrastructure of the city.
You can't be in Jerusalem without learning about the faiths of the world. This comes not just in the historic buildings and sites clustered so tightly that they sometimes are on top of one another. It's in the clothes people wear, the foods they eat, the shops that are open at different times, and the passages and expectations of their lives.
We say America has freedom of religious expression, and yet that often becomes a sort of dilution of all faiths. In Jerusalem, all faiths are expressed like a spicy stew filled with diverse ingredients that maintain their individual expression but exist in awareness and closeness to one another.
Many of the students kept photographic, video or written records of the things they experienced and learned throughout the trip as part of a study project. …