January 2, 2009: Dr. Paul Wright,
In light of the fighting between the Israeli
army and Hamas over the past few days, it is important that I
reassure the Jerusalem University College community—incoming and
continuing students, your families, members of our Consortium of
Associated Schools, and our wide circle of friends and
supporters—that we are and will continue to operate our short-term
and semester academic programs on an “as normal” basis.
In terms of safety and security, Jerusalem is
not affected by the current fighting in and around Gaza. Other than
the area around Gaza (the arc from Ashdod to Beer-sheba), both the
country of Israel and the city of Jerusalem remain quiet and secure.
When I walked from our campus on Mount Zion to pick up the mail this
morning, I noticed an unusually large number of tour busses parked
outside of Jaffa Gate, and a number of groups were enjoying the day
in and around the Old City. Of course everyone is alert, cautious
and careful, but that, for Jerusalem and JUC, is part of operating
on an “as normal” basis anyway.
Our own January three week
short-term program begins Tuesday
(January 5), with a full group of
40 students and
instructor with the following schools represented: Taylor
University, Bethel University, Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and
Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary as well as several independent
students. We will be adjusting our field trip itinerary
slightly to avoid the areas of Ashkelon and Beer-sheba, just as we
have made similar adjustments on and off for years as specific
situations warrant. We are well prepared to provide full and secure
learning experiences even with these itinerary adjustments—in fact,
it will give us an opportunity to do a few things that we normally
can’t fit into the schedule because of time constraints.
We are expecting a spring enrollment of
approximately 60 semester students from 32
different schools, with a full set of courses and field trip
experiences for them. Spring semester classes begin February 1. If
the situation continues to warrant such, we will place some
restrictions on personal travel for our semester students, but these
will not affect their formal learning experiences.
I hope that everyone had a happy and productive
Christmas holiday. For the first time in ten years Diane and I were
able to spend Christmas with family in the States, and we heard
first-hand a bit of the flavor of the news about Israel from that
direction. The situation certainly needs our prayers. The political
side of things is one aspect, the personal side another, and there
is wide-spread frustration and uncertainty on the ground among both
Palestinians and Israelis as to what the future might bring. We
should remember that not only will there be a new President in the
US, but Israeli elections are scheduled for February 10, and the
term of the Palestinian president ends on January 9 with no new
elections scheduled. So we, like everyone here, continue on in spite
of the things that swirl around us. Isaiah’s words may be 2700 years
old, but they have never lost their relevance:
The people who walk in darkness will
see a great light.
Those who live in a dark land, a
light will shine on them . . .
For a child will be born to us, a son
will be given to us;
And the government will rest on
And his name will be called Wonderful
Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal
Father, Prince of Peace.
And there will be no end to the
increase of His government or of shalom,
peace. . .
[So] arise! Shine! For your light has
And the glory of the LORD has
risen upon you! (Isa 9:2, 6; 60:1).
With blessings for peace in the coming new