Q. How are you able to communicate a sense of time and space in an online course?
“I try to focus on the experience of the individual we’re learning about; On his or her main interests, daily life, and maybe even some of their ambitions. Looking through a personal lens allows listeners to put themselves in the same space and truly immerse themselves mentally in the historical setting”.
Q. The courses discuss ancient times – are there any aspects discussed during the session that, in your opinion, are relatable to modern times?
“Absolutely. Today, Israeli Jewish society is divided between the secular, the Modern Orthodox, and the Ultra Orthodox. These divisions are based on theological divides that create social divides, and there’s a potential for violence there. The Jewish society at the time of Jesus was also divided, only then it was between Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, and Zealots. Just like today, those divides were social but stemmed from a theological divide. In that case, the divisions did lead to violence, and the destruction of the Second Temple. The resemblances are quite eye-opening!”
Q. What do you find students are usually most surprised to discover during the course?
“I think many participants are surprised to learn how Jewish Jesus was, in his behaviors and customs. Many of the rituals he practiced are still a part of Jewish life today. Encountering an Israeli Jew that can read and understand Aramaic- Jesus’s mother tongue- always surprises people. It’s especially thrilling for our travelers to hear the pronunciation of places as Jesus would have said them.
One other surprising element is experiencing the geographical reality of the Gospel. For example, the Sea of Galilee really isn’t a sea, and the Jordan River isn’t really a river! The Judean mountains look more like hills to most visitors. During our course we explore Biblical geography and learn that the gospels were written with a local geographical context: for example, the people who wrote about the Jordan River had no way to compare it to the Mississippi!”.