Originally appeared here at Jewish Week
by  Gary Rosenblatt Wednesday, August 23rd 2017


“Delaney Thull, 21, grew up with positive feelings about Israel, based on stories she heard from family members who had visited. But when she arrived on campus at Princeton as a freshman two years ago and witnessed anti-Israel BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) demonstrations, she was shocked and upset. “I realized I had the sentiment [for Israel] but no actual political understanding.” She later took advantage of an opportunity to join a 10-day group tour to Israel and came away spiritually moved and “more able to engage in the conversation.”

Ariel Heinsius Bryant, a 23-year-old law school student in Virginia, acknowledges she was not well-versed on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before visiting Israel for the first time last summer on a similar 10-day group tour. She came back feeling supportive of the Jewish state, and at the same time more aware that the political situation is complex. She described the learning process as “like peeling the layers of an onion.”

Robert Nicholson, Philos’ executive director, and Passages participant Ariel Heinsius Bryant. The learning process on the 10-day Israel trip, she says, was “like peeling the layers of an onion.”

The trips that Thull and Bryant participated in were part of Passages, a program designed to show Christian college students in the U.S. — many from Christian campuses — the roots of their faith in the Holy Land and help them better understand the complexity of modern Israel. Modeled in part after Birthright Israel, the tours are sponsored by the Museum of the Bible Foundation in Washington, D.C., and the Philos Project, a New York-based nonprofit promoting “positive Christian engagement in the Middle East.”


More about PASSAGES.