Connections between the Jerusalem Center and the Local Israeli Academy

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When we first occupied the Center, construction of some of its facilities was not completed. For example, the dining area, which would come to be called the Oasis, was not finished in time for the summer term of 1987, and my students and I had to walk across the street to the Commodore Hotel for our meals. During the first week my student group was lodging at the Center, I was approached by a man who owned the house just across the street from our lower gate and desired to meet some of his strange new neighbors. He invited me to his son’s wedding, to be held in their small patio court that weekend. It was a delightful event for me and several of our students, as we began the process of getting to know the people of our new surroundings.

It was not all easy, however, and not always friendly. I also remember being approached by a belligerent man at a tourist site who recognized the students as the “Mormons” whose new Center he felt was a dangerous missionary presence in the Holy Land. He attempted to bait me and some of my students into a religious discussion, which we avoided. It would take quite some time for the fears that some people had about the Center to abate.