During a busy summer which has seen a resurgence of tourism to pre-covid levels in Israel, hundreds of young Christian students have been visiting Israel with Passages. The popular tour brings Christian college and graduate students from across the United States to Israel to connect with their ancient biblical roots and get to know the modern state. Since 2016, thousands of students have participated in the highly subsidized trip.
This marked the first trip to Israel for many African American students, who just completed their August tour. The group traveled with Passages in partnership with the Philos Project. The diverse group represents various denominations and Historically Black Colleges and Universities in America.
“We are delighted that Passages continued to send groups to Israel this summer,” said Rivka Kidron, co-founder of Passages and a member of its Board of Directors. “We were thrilled to welcome the African American students on their discovery of the historic roots of their faith, and to have an opportunity to develop a deep connection to the modern State of Israel.”
The trip was an opportunity to learn about Israel’s diverse population, particularly Jews of color, the nature of each community, and to refute any antisemitic sentiment.
“What was most influential about this trip for me were the multiplicity of black cultural and religious contextual backgrounds that every trip member respectfully came from and carried with them,” said group member Jason Chukwu. “Watching and being a part of this diversity consistently spoke volumes that…the African/Black diaspora is so colorfully diverse as our Jewish brethren are also diverse.”
In making her second trip to Israel with Passages, group member Carnela Hill especially enjoyed learning about the diversity both inside the group, and inside Israel. “To learn about the Ethiopian Jews and their walk through the desert to obtain citizenship broadened my perspective of the travail they had to experience and the injustice that still exists.”
“One of my favorite moments of reflection was the story of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s visit to Israel. We traveled the similar path Dr. King traveled. I was so moved by Dr. King’s words about Israel and the nation – as if I had heard his words for the very first time – except this time I was in the place Dr. King referenced “the death curve and the mountaintop. This set my soul on fire to be a greater change agent for injustice…” added Hill.
Passages offers Christian college students with leadership potential a fresh and innovative approach to experiencing the Holy Land. Participants encounter the roots of their Biblical faith first-hand and come face to face with the modern-day miracle that is Israel and have opportunities to build upon their trip experiences with additional leadership training, with the goal of becoming an informed voice for Israel and for their Christian faith.