Five Canterbury students and two faculty members spent a portion of their March break in an unconventional—but invaluable—way. The group visited the “center of the universe for religion”, as Mr. Glaser called the nation of Israel.
After arriving in Tel-Aviv, the travelers were treated to a busy international marketplace bursting with life. Next, they trekked along the Sea of Galilee, visiting important sites in the life of Jesus as well as nature preserves and the Dead Sea. Once their campout between Jerusalem and Nazareth was complete, the group drove by the borders with Syria and Lebanon—a poignant moment according to the students, who could hear the sounds of Damascus in the distance.
The travelers concluded their trip with a return to Jerusalem for a few days, where they saw the Dome of the Rock, Western Wall, and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Also, they visited the site of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem.
Attendees included Madelaine Sweeney ‘22, Daniella Suarez ‘21, Abigail Kavanaugh ‘21, Nick Buonaiuto ‘19, and Kathryn Naughton ‘22.
Ms. Berry-Toon and Mr. Glaser, the faculty chaperones, both expressed the value of experiencing the unique conditions of Israel firsthand. Ms. Berry-Toon said, “It made many things that we hear on the news more tangible, impactful, and easier to understand!”
Especially memorable to her were the everyday citizens’ perspectives on the Israeli elections dominating the worldwide news.
Mr. Glaser agreed that “it’s not what you see in the press.”
Before departing Israel, the group encountered a procession by the Stations of the Cross reciting the Hail Mary in numerous languages. As Jewish Israelis crossed back and forth on the path, the Muslim call to prayer rose from a nearby mosque.
“Israel is the center of the universe for religion,” said Mr. Glaser, “With Islam, Christianity, and Judaism working together.” Being at the heart of it all gave students a perspective on how one tiny piece of land spawned three worldwide movements toward God.
“I was really surprised at how different the culture and the people are there, yet they all got along,” said Nick ‘19. “I would recommend the trip to anyone who is looking to learn—whether it’s about learning about new cultures, history, or just about yourself. Later in life I will definitely go back for another trip.”
Beyond the wider themes of religion and politics, acceptance and understanding, the travelers enjoyed discovering unexpected tenets of everyday Israeli life.
“It was way colder than I thought!” commented Ms. Berry-Toon, and Nick added: “They didn’t have much meat and all the food was kosher. I think I ate more vegetables on that trip than I did in the past two years combined.”
As a Catholic-based school, Canterbury is excited to begin a yearly tradition of pilgrimage to Israel. Attendees found their relationship to their religion deepened when surrounded by its origins. Mr. Glaser expressed hopes for an even bigger group next year. He also wants to have students spend time and make connections with Israeli children of different faiths.