Read the Daily Dispatches

By Covering Religion Staff

View the trip itinerary. Learn more about the class.

March 11, 2010

By Maia Efrem
AMMAN, Jordan — When we signed up for the Covering Religion seminar back in November, we knew we were headed for adventures in Jordan and Israel. But when our tickets arrived we learned that we were getting a traveler’s bonus: a full-day stop over in Istanbul. For most of us, it turned out to be a day to explore Istanbul’s timeless mosques, underground waterways and old world bazaars. However, two members of our traveling party were left in the airport, where they did their own exploring. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 12, 2010

By Sam Petulla
AMMAN, Jordan — Inside the King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque, after imam Sheik Rababa delivered a sermon about the value of togetherness, compassion, and keeping a clean heart, the members of our traveling seminar were asked to leave the services before the juma, the main gathering prayer. On a day of considerable cultural mixing and exchange, the cognitive dissonance produced by our ejection from the mosque stood out as a point where East failed to fully meet West. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 13, 2010

By Mariana Cristancho-Ahn
PETRA, Jordan — Prince Hassan, the crown prince of Jordan during most of the reign of his late brother King Hussein, proved himself to be a man of diplomacy and charm during our two hour meeting with him on Saturday morning. He did his best to put everyone at ease with his humor, razor-sharp wit and a breakfast fit for royalty. After our diplomatic encounter we left Amman and headed to Madaba and Mount Nebo, before we took the long bus ride south to Petra, where we spent the next day. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 14, 2010

By Josh Tapper
PETRA, Jordan — Our trip to Petra was organized as a respite from religion, an opportunity to be tourists. And what a tourist jaunt it was: Geriatrics lazed in horse-drawn carts commandeered by Bedouins; locals hocked tchotchkes and mule rides, or “desert taxis”; and at some points the site looked like a promotional video for Tilley Hats. But what did we find amid the serpentine canyons? A group of pilgrims holding an impromptu service — perhaps it was divine intervention. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 15, 2010

By Yaffi Spodek
TIBERIAS, Israel — Our final day in Jordan began with a pre-sunrise wake-up call, the sounds of the alarm mingling with the morning crow of the local roosters and the call to prayer from a nearby mosque. After breakfast, we said our goodbyes to Petra and the Taybet Zaman Hotel and embarked on a seemingly endless bus ride. Our destination: the Sheikh Hussein Border Crossing, the northernmost point to enter Israel from Jordan, and Kibbitz Lavi, where we met Rabbi Yehuda Gilad. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 16, 2010

By Tammy Mutasa and Mamta Badkar
TIBERIAS, Israel — As the Muslim call to prayer sounded through the streets of Nazareth at noon, church bells from the Roman Catholic Church of the Annunciation started to ring—up and down, up and down. The faster they churned, the louder the ringing became, turning two beautiful religious symbols into one cacophonous soundtrack. For our class, the cacophony best captured the diverse and sometimes conflicting religious symbols of our first full day in Israel. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 17, 2010

By Sanaz Meshkinpour
JERUSALEM — Ever since we arrived in Israel, the news from Jerusalem was grim. Palestinians, angry over the building of new Jewish homes and over the re-opening of an old synagogue, were clashing violently with Israeli police. Jerusalem was our destination on Wednesday and we approached it with a combination of fear and excitement. But before we got to Jerusalem, we had a meeting at Kibbutz Hanaton where we witnessed a religious encounter of a very different kind. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 18, 2010

By Omar Kasrawi
JERUSALEM — Soon after we entered the Old City, our group split up. Three members of our traveling party ascended to the Temple Mount. The rest went to the Western Wall. Then we all visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The evening ended at a cafe, where we spent time at a reception for J School alumni and the class ate dinner in the company of eight young adults who participated in two interreligious dialogue programs between Palestinian and Jewish students. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 19, 2010

By Carolyn Phenicie
JERUSALEM — On Friday we saw the many faces of this holy city: the Jerusalem of memorials, the Jerusalem of protest and the Jerusalem of prayer and song. Our day began with a visit to Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust memorial, continued with a visit to demonstrations outside the Old City, including a sizable demonstration in Sheikh Jarrah and ended at the home of Oded Levinson, an ultra-orthodox Jerusalemite, for a traditional Shabbat celebration. Read more | Photos of the Day >

March 21, 2010

By Jose Leyva
JERUSALEM — After traversing Jordan and Israel, on Sunday we entered the troubled region in between the two countries known as the West Bank. It is an area that was captured by Israel during the War of 1967 and has been a source of tension ever since. In keeping with our religious focus, we visited Jewish and Arab Christian holy places but the political story was never far behind, especially given the announcement by Israel that it was going to continue to expand its hold on Jerusalem. Read more >

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