By: Henry Eden ~Staff Writer~
For the second year in a row, Xavier offered a unique study abroad opportunity during the holiday break in the form of a trip to the Holy Land. Like last year, students were able to tour firsthand the same sites where Jesus lived and taught 2000 years ago while earning course credit in philosophy.
Two changes to the program the past year provided the group with better funding and accommodations. Professor Steven Frankel of Xavier’s philosophy department led the trip alongside his colleague Dr. Timothy Quinn. Frankel cited the grant from Cincinnati’s Jewish Foundation and a partnership with The Pontifical Biblical institute in Jerusalem as the greatest contributing factors to the trips success this year. The latter being a Jesuit education institution based in Rome that has a house, classrooms and library for scholars in the heart of the holy land.
“They (Pontifical Biblical Institute) had not opened their doors to any American Jesuit colleges, until Pope Francis came along, and he actually encouraged them to open their doors to Jesuit colleges, but they still didn’t know how to do that,” Frankel told Newswire.
“Working together with the Jesuits in Jerusalem, we found a way to let our students live at the Pontifical Biblical Institute during our trip.” Additionally, a three-year grant from the Jewish foundation of Cincinnati provided students with subsidies for the trip.
“The Jewish Foundation is particularly interested in encouraging interreligious dialogue, between Catholics and Jews and other faiths as well,” Frankel said. Xavier decided to put together a pitch to show this trip as a way of fostering this kind of relationship in Cincinnati.
“It’s a Jesuit group, from a Jesuit school entering the Jewish state, and also meeting with Muslims and having this type of interfaith dialogue,” Frankel said. “The Foundation’s generous support made the trip possible.”
The trip was originally inspired by Xavier’s president Fr. Michael Graham’s own venture to Israel three years ago. Although advertised as a trip for students studying in the Philosophy, Politics and the Public program, students from other majors were able to join the trip as well. The trip will be offered again to students during winter break of the 2016-2017 academic year.