A Christian teacher in Israel

Emek Jezreel  by Desi Maxwell


I’ve just returned to Ireland after completing the three week summer programme at The Galilee Centre for Studies in Jewish-Christian relations which is based at The Max Stern Yezreel Valley College.

What a location it is!  Equidistant from Megiddo to the west and Nazareth to the north, the College is ideally located as a base to explore the land, expand your thinking and build relationships.  As a seasoned visitor to Israel, leading study tours for Christians twice a year, I was excited about going as a student this time.  I wanted to be refreshed and to “take in” rather than “give out”.

Often I say to my groups that they must wear tri-focals if they are going to appreciate anything of Israel. I found myself using those very lenses throughout this course planned by Dr.Faydra Shapiro, who directs The Centre.  This summer course provided a splendid opportunity to relate past, present and future as well as land, people and book. The three weeks simply flew by.

On three of the days each week there were two lecture streams. Dr Brad Young set “Jesus in his Jewish matrix” with consummate skill while Dr.Shapiro helped us explore the intricacies and challenges of “Jewish – Christian dialogue”.

As a Christian, I felt that I had a lot to learn even though I’ve devoted much of my life to teaching Christians about the Hebraic context of their faith. However this course was not confined to the classroom.

Mondays saw us out and about all over the Galilee on field trips ably guided by an enthusiastic rabbi by the name of Ross Singer. He carried his knowledge lightly and communicated it with great warmth and humour.

Wednesdays were community days which took us into the world of the Emunah foster home in Afula and then out into the fields to glean vegetables for the less fortunate.


Community volunteering on a Wednesday

Fridays and Shabbats were our own to either travel or simply catch up on the week.  A Shabbat meal with the Shapiro family and a trip north to visit the Aramaic speaking Christian church in Gush Halav were among some of the ‘extras’.

If you ever consider an in-depth experience of life in Israel then I’d recommend this programme with great enthusiasm. My own ministry, Xplorations (www.xplorations.org) is based in Northern Ireland but if there any questions that you’d like to ask then please feel free to contact me at desimaxwell@virginmedia.com