The ISV Show: Inside Studying Abroad in Israel

The ISV Show is a brand new podcast discussing topics important to international and study abroad students. Our first podcast discusses more about study abroad students being evacuated from Israel.

Marc Bernstein, Director of Jewish Studies at Michigan State University
Marc Bernstein, Professor of Jewish and Muslim Studies at Michigan State University

 

 

As the conflict between Israel and Hamas escalated during the past month, a group of American students from Michigan State University who were studying abroad experienced the conflict first hand. Jackie Knowles, ISV Ambassador and Correspondent learned more about their study abroad trip to Israel and the events leading up to their evacuation from Marc Bernstein, Professor of Jewish and Muslim Studies at Michigan State University.

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Here is a preview of some of the topics that were discussed:

ISV Correspondent: What was the initial response from the students after getting the news that they were going to be evacuated?

Prof. Bernstein:   They were very disappointed. Very disappointed, actually. I think they were disappointed that their input hadn’t been sought, […] they felt that the actual risk that they faced was minimal and they were disappointed that they didn’t get to complete the program…

 On the other hand, they saw an incredible amount of things for the short time they were here…but they also had some wonderful and amazing experiences… Hopefully, they will preserve those memories with them; and, maybe some of them will get back here filling in some of the gaps in things that they didn’t have a chance to do.

 

ISV Correspondent: Is there anything that you would like to clear up about Israel and what is going on; and, how that might differ from what people are led to believe from media?

Prof. Bernstein: The news [and] the media […] will saturate it. From the outside, it looks like life [in Israel] is completely chaos [with] missiles falling; that is not the reality […] everybody is, more or less, following their regular routine.

 For those in the South, adjacent to the Gaza Strip, life is very difficult […] I think one of the things that Americans don’t realize is that […] the distances involved here are so small, its just a matter of seconds between the launch of the missile and its actual landing…You basically have 30 seconds once the siren goes off to get cover before the missile will be intercepted, or hit a target.”

 

ISV Correspondent:  What advice do you have for others who are considering traveling to or studying abroad in Israel in the future?

Prof. Bernstein:  I would encourage it; I think it’s an amazing place! It’s a tiny country about the size of the state of New Jersey; there are about 8 million people, but 8 million different opinions – just incredibly dynamic. As a modern-state, it is only 66 years old, but it has a history going back 3,000 years.  There’s just so much here to see, to learn, to experience […] and, I would hope more students would take advantage of the opportunity to come here and study.

 [Also, it’s important to note that…] American-Jewish students are able to take advantage of a program called Birthright – which takes them on an intensive, 10-day subsidized experience, traveling around the country. Birthright is great for first-experience, but there really is no substitute for study abroad.

 

 

[typography font=”Lobster” size=”23″ size_format=”px”]Click here to read Inside Studying Abroad in Israel: Part One [/typography]

Eight American students were evacuated during their study abroad trip in Israel
Eight American students were evacuated during their study abroad trip in Israel
Sheikh al-Bukhari (deceased, left) and Marc Bernstein (right). Sheikh was head of the Naqshabandi Sufi order in Jerusalem and committed to interdenominational understanding. This photo was taken at the ancient city of Sepphoris in the Galilee during Marc's last study abroad trip.
Sheikh al-Bukhari (deceased, left) and Marc Bernstein (right). Sheikh was head of the Naqshabandi Sufi order in Jerusalem and committed to interdenominational understanding. This photo was taken at the ancient city of Sepphoris in the Galilee during Marc’s last study abroad trip.

 

Marc S. Bernstein studied on a kibbutz in Israel during his high school years, before obtaining his BA in Political Economy of Industrial Societies from Berkeley. He was a Postgraduate Rotary Scholar in Arabic Studies at St. Andrews University in Scotland, a fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad in Cairo, a Fulbright Scholar and Fellow at the Hartman Institute in Israel before completing his PhD in Near Eastern Studies at Berkeley. His primary research interests are Hebrew & Israeli culture, and the intersection of Jewish & Islamic civilizations and his book, Stories of Joseph: Narrative Migrations Between Judaism and Islam, explores the intersection of traditions surrounding the biblical and quranic figure of Joseph son of Jacob as reflected in scriptural, exegetical and popular literary traditions. He has been a professor of Hebrew at the University of Michigan and the George Washington University and taught Arabic at Achva College in Israel.   He is currently professor of Jewish Studies & Muslim Studies at Michigan State University.  He teaches courses in modern Hebrew, Israeli society, Israeli film, and the monotheistic traditions of Judaism Christianity, & Islam. In addition to this summer, he directed the summer MSU Study Abroad Program at Hebrew University in 2008 and 2009. He is married with four children and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Do you have a topic or idea for the next ISV Show?

ISV show (3) international student voice magazine

Email Carrie Circosta, Editor in Chief at ccircosta@internationalstudentvoice.org

 

international student voice magazine jackie knowlesJackie Knowles

ISV Ambassador and Correspondent

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