500 college students land in Israel for 'Christian Birthright'

Passages plans to bring around 10,000 Christian college students to Israel this year.

United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at Passages' 5th anniversary ceremony in Jersualem, 2020 (photo credit: JERIES MANSOUR/U.S. EMBASSY JERUSALEM)
United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at Passages' 5th anniversary ceremony in Jersualem, 2020
Passages, known informally as a "Christian version of Birthright" for college students, celebrated their fifth anniversary in Jerusalem this week together with more than 500 participants from the United States at an event last Thursday that was attended by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
Passages plans to bring a total of 10,000 Christian college students to Israel by the end of this year reaching this amount of students in only five years since it was founded. Introducing them to the roots of their biblical faith and building bridges between Israel and the United States. The students visit numerous holy Christian sites throughout Israel.
“At a time when many academic institutions can no longer be trusted to provide an honest and objective perspective on Israel, it is more important than ever that young student leaders have the opportunity to see the true picture for themselves," Friedman said in remarks. "Congratulations to Passages for convening such a large and impressive collection of Christian students from around the United States."
The Passages journey is a nine-day trip throughout the country, where students visit the birthplace of Christianity, telling Bible stories in the locations they were purported to have occurred, connecting them to their Christian faith, hearing lectures about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, learning about the history and development of the Jewish State, and connecting to modern Israel.
“When you travel through this country you have to know that this country belongs to you too. It belongs to you because of what you believe in, because this is part of your Faith," former Israeli ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told the students. He also spoke Thursday.
"Your Faith gives you a part of this land and a part of this sacred city. The idea of America is insuperable of the idea of a recreating Jewish State, in this country in this land of Israel. We have a shared history and shared values. The fact that you are here is proof of 2000 years of belief of faith and tradition of those values," he concluded. 
Rivka Kidron, one of the co-founders of Passages said at the event: "In 2016 Passages was born. To give (our students),  the religious, business, social and political leaders of tomorrow - an opportunity to ignite their faith; connect with the values that the U.S. shares with Israel; and strengthen their leadership journey.
Since starting Passages, thousands of students have come home from Israel with a renewed passion and purpose." 
Co-founder Robert Nicholson also said, "Never in history has there been a time like this, when Christians and Jews can gather around shared values -- values that come from the Bible, a book we both share -- to make the world a better place. Passages gives us the opportunity to create a legacy for ourselves, our communities, and future generations."