Study abroad program sends students to Israel, plans for program to return in 2019.
By Emily Klein / The Gonzaga Bulletin
August 30, 2017
“The students appreciated a place that I had never been before [The Tent of Nations outside Bethlehem in the West Bank] and this is my 10th time going to Israel. For me it was a very emotional experience, too, because I felt like it’s such a model, it’s such a lesson in life where when you’re stuck in these horrible situations you have to consider how to stand up and be a human being. They could have become suicide bombers, they could have become people who lie in garbage. They said that they were going to find another way. I think that lesson, for the students, was absolutely profound. It was for me, too.”
— Dr. Elizabeth Goldstein, Associate Professor of Religious Studies
Controversies are often told or experienced in a one-sided manner. Israel, its history and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict associated with it is often susceptible to such exclusive perspectives.
Every aspect of the Gonzaga-in-Israel program avoided limited perspectives by embracing duality and empathy.
Dr. Elizabeth Goldstein, associate professor of religious studies and a rabbi, proposed the creation of the Israel study abroad experience with dual purposes and perspectives in mind.
“I feel like Israel and knowledge of the Middle East is an important part of a full approach to both the background of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible as well as anything to do with contemporary Judaism,” Goldstein said. “I also felt that it was a part of the mission of the university to look at issues of social justice between Israel and Palestine.”
As a study abroad program, Gonzaga-in-Israel also had to incorporate location and excursions into its curriculum.
“I had two goals when I developed excursions: one was to round out the experience of studying and reading about Judaism as a religion, and as a culture and a peoplehood,” Goldstein said. “All things that related to the history of the Jewish people and how they connect to their religion while living in the state of Israel were main components of how I planned excursions.”
Social justice was another component Goldstein considered when selecting a company.
“I felt that we couldn’t, as Gonzaga, go to Israel and not engage with Palestinians to talk about land and the history of the conflict,” Goldstein said.