AOP Israel and Palestine Program – Beloved Land

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“This is the kind of Israel Program I wish had existed when I was a rabbinical student – deep and soul-searching, integrating heart, body, and mind.” –Rabbi Marcia Prager, Dean of the AOP

An innovative immersion program featuring two dynamic semester-length video-conference courses and a 23-day summer residential experience in Israel.


  • Multi-tiered intellectual inquiry,
  • Heart-centered learning, and
  • Embodied on-the-ground exploration of the Land and its teeming life

Israel, the home to almost half of the Jews in the world, is arguably the most dramatic game-changing collective experiment in Jewish history of the last two millennia. The in-gathering of our people from all corners of the earth and now the existence of a reborn Jewish State, has altered everything from Jewish language to Jewish polity and communal life, and has fired the Jewish religious imagination in bold and unanticipated ways.

At the same time, the challenges of Jewish self-governance on the national scale has sharpened the existential, ethical and spiritual dilemmas that occupy us all as budding klei kodesh, as Jewish spiritual leaders in a new paradigm. What forms of Judaism and Hebrew culture are being born, revived, or snuffed out? How do we live with/share space with the Other, both Jews from around the globe and Palestinians who are also indigenous to the region and also love the Land.

In this crucible of vitality and heartbreak, a great Jewish ingathering and collision of cultures – both sacred and profane – is unfolding. We are called upon to stretch our kelim.

We will work to expand our awareness to engage conflicting stories and encounter mind-stretching complexities.

The full-semester courses:

Journey Through the Histories of Israel and Palestine Explores the complex history, sociology and anthropology of pre-state Ottoman Palestine, including traditional understandings of home and sacred place, the emergence of Israel as a modern nation-state, Palestinian nationalism, and their relationship to the wider, shifting geopolitics of the Middle East.

The Dream of Place: Contemporary Culture in Israel and Palestine Explores the rich cultural and religious diversity of human expression in Israel and Palestine through literature, poetry, film, music, art, foodways, liturgy, theology and prayer communities. The focus will be on contemporary ferment and will treat such themes as Land and Desire, Rituals of Memory and Home, Trauma and Healing, the interplay of languages and voices, as well as spiritual renewal and the rhythms of daily life.

Participants in the summer residential program are expected to have taken at least “Journey Through the Histories of Israel and Palestine,” and preferably, both of these courses, or the equivalent.

Semester courses are offered as part of the regularly scheduled offerings of AOP courses. AOP students, students at other recognized seminaries, and ordained clergy are eligible to apply.

The Summer residential program is on hold due to Covid, and will be scheduled when circumstances are favorable.