Note: The writer, 12 year old, titled her article “Jerusalem”. The educator’s prompt was for the students to pick any location in the world that would help them learn about the place more authentically than using a text book.

What better way to change the future of the world than to show the children who will lead it one day what can be. So I leave you to consider this: that Jerusalem has presented us an open book, and it is up to us to turn the page.

Written by May, a 12 year old from Chattanooga, Tennessee, a participant in the C.H.I.P-Western Civilization Heritage Israel Program.

A Visit of the Heart with C.H.I.P-Western Civilization Heritage Israel Program to Israel
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Message: A Visit of the Heart; Whitwell Middle School students explain WHY any young person should go with C.H.I.P-Western Civilization Heritage Israel Program - to Israel

Submitted at class on January 15, 2016

It is the birthplace of three major religions. It has seen war and hate and the cunning strategists who have rallied to take it for their own. It is a city with three faces, three prophets and one God, and it has a lot to teach us.

Jerusalem's rich and deeply religious history is filled with anger and desire. The people near and around it hungered to claim the land their worshiped prophets had graced, and were more than willing to fight for it. The centuries that followed its founding were bursting with action as they all jockeyed for the sacred city.

Yet for children to see and touch these places, to walk through a city that Christ himself strode through, to see the Temple Mount where Mohammed ascended to heaven, to know the turmoil and peace that made Jerusalem sacred to the Jews for over three thousand years, is worth fighting for as well.

Something makes Jerusalem special, something that ancient civilizations saw, and something that cannot be taught in a classroom. The power that seeps from the spiritual harmony and hope the Wailing Wall brings or the bricks of the Dome of the Rock, are not things that can be captured by images or words, they cannot be understood by reading a textbook. Sites like the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism where the binding of Isaac may have occurred, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, where Christ was believed to have been crucified and resurrected, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Mohammed was transported during the legendary Night Journey, are considered as a part of a story, merely a setting for a brief but tedious chapter in a textbook. When students are sitting in class, reading those books, these places are just a dot on a map. They are unreachable, as alien as outer space. But when a student is there, when they can see and smell and feel the place, that is when they will remember. They will care about what has happened there, and that is when they will want to understand more. It would be powerful to see people from three dominant religions, who have historically despised each other despite their common roots, mingled together on a daily basis.

Unfortunately, as children are spending more and more of their lives indoors playing fast paced video games and being fed entertainment from televisions, they are becoming distanced to the world that surrounds them. To travel to another country without those distractions and to interact with people who are different from them in thousands of ways would benefit them not only educationally, but likely emotionally as well. It would give them a hint as to what really is diversity in humankind, and promote a sense of adventure that would push them to explore both the world outside of them and the depth of potential that resides inside of them.

Jerusalem is an ideal place to learn and reconnect with other cultures. Its monuments are symbols worldwide, but it is the people who live there, three completely different societies, that make it such a valuable place for schools to visit. The fact that they have a fragile peace, lasting in the present and that will hopefully grow stronger in the future, yet manage to coexist together in one city is a lesson that the rest of the world needs to learn from, and what better way to change the future of the world, than to show the children who will lead it one day what can be. So I leave you to consider this, that Jerusalem has presented us an open book, and it is up to us to turn the page.

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