Update, 13 May 2020
Last week, our spring semester came to a close, and the students who stayed in Jerusalem have begun to return home. Although we had to temporarily shift most of our program online, we are glad that these students were able to complete the semester. At this point in the year, we are usually gearing up for summer short-term programs, most of which we have regrettably been forced to cancel.
Israel has reached a stable point in new infections, and they have relaxed most of their internal restrictions. However, they are not yet allowing non-Israelis to enter from abroad. Discussions related to how Israel can re-open to tourism are underway. We are hoping for the restrictions on international travel to be lifted yet this summer and are looking forward to the fall semester.
A Message From The President, 12 April 2020
I am writing you to provide an update on the Jerusalem University College community, our campus, and our commitment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As challenges stem from this global virus, we remain focused on our vision to see students transformed by the realities of the Bible.
Community: Everyone on campus—both students and staff—is healthy and safe. We are adjusting to a new normal as we enter the last month of our spring semester, diligent to follow all the restrictions on movement that have been issued by the Israeli Ministry of Health. Though a few of our semester students have returned to their homes in the U.S., everyone remains connected to the JUC community through the aid of collaborative technologies and online course delivery. All of our field studies are necessarily cancelled for the time being, but everyone is hopeful we might be able to do some day trips before the semester ends in May.
Campus: We started two ambitious campus renovation projects in February. Both are looking very good but only half finished due to restrictions on movement. We look forward to the day when our skilled workers (tektons!) can re-enter Jerusalem from Bethlehem to complete their work.
The streets surrounding campus are nearly quiet, empty of visitors and nearly empty of people who live and work in the city. What should be the busiest time of each day sounds like an early Shabbat morning. And in that quiet, what we hear instead is the springtime growth in our gardens. The rains have been especially plentiful this winter, but now “behold, the winter is past, the rain is [nearly] over and gone; the flowers have appeared . . . the vines in blossom have given forth fragrance . . . and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land” (Song of Songs 2). Our campus is beautiful. Our spirits are reflective and hopeful, yet cautious.
Commitment: We remain committed to the students who are with us, and to the ones who plan to come in the months ahead. In the meantime, the COVID pandemic has caused cancellations for all our spring short-term programs since the beginning of March, along with many of our summer programs. Because the remaining summer programs are doubtful, the impact on our budget is significant. We are committed to continuing full programs as soon as health and travel conditions allow. In the meantime, we are in the process of temporarily downsizing aspects of our operations in responsible ways, while remaining committed to students and groups who will be with us in the future.
Like you, we are trusting God as we wait for the resumption of normal life. In the meantime, we are able to reflect actively on the experiences of how He has already encountered us in life-altering ways. And you are a part of these stories.
We know that you care about the life of Jerusalem University College. We value your support as we position ourselves to continue offering study programs in the lands of the Bible. That commitment is unchanged.
With thanks and Easter blessings,
Jerusalem University College
Update, 20 March 2020
We continue to monitor the mandates of the Israeli Ministry of Health, and we are in communication with our students about them in order to be sure that our students are adhering to the mandates while they are in Israel. We are also monitoring travel advisories from the U.S. State Department, including their travel advisory alert issued last night which pertains largely to Americans who are doing short-term international travel. We have reminded our students that they have the option to return home and finish the semester via distance ed should they choose. All our students remain in good health, and we are continuing our classes via distance ed, as are other educational institutions in Israel.
Update, 18 March 2020
We are continuing to monitor the situation in Israel as it develops, and we are complying with all the mandates of the Ministry of Health. We are committed to continuing the spring semester program on our Mt. Zion campus, with both in-class sessions and online learning formats as appropriate. Everyone’s spirits, and health, are excellent. At the same time, we continue to look forward to our summer programs and fall semester.
A Message From The President, 13 March 2020
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to spread, it is imperative that we respond to the crisis in ways that are healthy and responsible. I want to assure you that the team at Jerusalem University College is doing everything possible to ensure the health and safety of our students, faculty, and staff. At the same time, we are committed to continuing our academic programs without interruption.
No one in the JUC campus community shows any signs or symptoms of the coronavirus. For this, we are most thankful. We are taking all due precautions as outlined by the directives of the CDC and the Israeli Ministry of Health. Ours is a small, strong, careful and largely self-contained community. It is a supportive, caring, and safe place to be.
Many schools and educational institutions in Israel, the US, and around the world are suspending classes and/or switching to online learning formats. We are committed to continuing the spring semester program on our Mt. Zion campus, with in-class sessions as scheduled. Please be assured that while we are able to convert classes to online formats, it is not necessary to do so at this time.
We will assess our two Jordan field studies (one is April 17-20 for the Physical Settings course and the other in May 9-14 for Cultural Backgrounds) in the upcoming weeks, making appropriate adjustments as necessary.
While some of our spring and summer short-term groups have cancelled, others have not, and our May, June and July programs are largely on-track.
Enrollment for our fall 2020 semester remains strong, without any indication of cancellations, and we anticipate running our regular fall program without restrictions.
We can sense what the prophets meant when they spoke of mountains crumbling in their midst, taking their reality as a metaphor. But I am drawn more to one sentence in the book of Isaiah, 40:26, in which the prophet likens the vastness of the starry host to a flock of sheep. The language is shepherding language, leading, protecting and calling by name. Our God takes the unknowable, complex—and scary—vastness of the universe, places us who are as helpless as sheep in it, and guides both the known and the unknowable so that “not one of [us] is missing.”
Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars,
The One who leads forth their host by number.
He calls them all by name.
Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing.
Rev. Dr. Paul Wright,
Jerusalem University College