Online Study tour to Israel and Palestine. Reflection: Day One

Posted Fri, 05/07/2021 - 09:07 by Robert

This is the first in a series of blogs reflecting on our 2021 online study tour of Israel-Palestine and what our Jewish and Christian participants took away from it. In this reflection, Revd Catherine Dixon, Methodist Presbyter in the Ely and Newmarket Methodist Circuit, looks back to the first session of the tour, which focused on contemporary Jewish and Christian perspectives on Jerusalem.

After a briefing evening the night before which had left our heads buzzing with new people and ideas, Day One of the virtual study tour was an intellectual and imaginative onslaught – in the very best possible way - as we heard from some of the many narratives that compete, cross, complement, or contradict each other in the city where heaven and earth meet. After such an immersive day, my feeling at the end was one of dislocation: we had ‘been’ to Jerusalem, but were still so far away, and I wanted to get out into the city’s streets and breathe in some of what we had experienced virtually. ‘Next year in Jerusalem’ is a now an echo in my heart.

Hitherto, for me, Jerusalem was either a series of biblical, holy sites stitched together in the narrow streets of the old city, or an alarming news story taking place beyond the tourist territory. Through the narratives and people and projects we were privileged to spend time with, I now feel I have been to a different Jerusalem. I know I didn’t take it all in – there was a lot of information to receive and process; I didn’t fully grasp all that was shared, nor did I necessarily agree with everything, and I was thankful to my colleagues on the tour for their contributions and insights and for creating a safe space in which we could be open and learn and grow together.

My experience on the virtual study tour has fostered in me a tentative confidence (if that is not a complete contradiction in terms!) to continue pulling at the tangle of threads that make up Jerusalem, to see beyond a simple binary of tourism or trouble, to keep informing myself, to keep thinking, and above all, mindful of the entreaty of Psalm 122, to keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem.

Revd Catherine Dixon