Holy Land Updates
Travel arrangements for your JCBS programs are handled by EOT. Click Here to view the latest information about travel conditions in the Middle East and Europe.
Scroll through our video updates above and click Play on the video you'd like to view.
Holy Land Update | September 9, 2014
James Ridgway, CEO of Educational Opportunities (which sponsors JCBS) is
currently in the Holy Land. Join him and guide Mike Abu Libdeh on the Mount
of Olives for a brief update from Jerusalem.
Holy Land Update | August 2014
The video above was just recorded with three JCBS staff members who have just returned from the Holy Land. President and CEO James Ridgway sits down and asks how their experience was touring with other pilgrims from around the country.
Hear what Pastors and Professors are saying about their recent trip to the Holy Land:
My church went on a
trip to Israel with the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies February-March
2013 and enjoyed it immensely. All of my members said it was life transforming.
When we shared with other members during a potluck I was touched by how they
articulated how much their faith had grow. I made the trip with another pastor
and her church and this arrangement went very well. Our two groups melded well
together and we are now planning another trip together for
Everywhere we went during our trip we felt secure as we traveled with a great bus driver and followed the advice of our instructor. I led without incident those of our group who wished to follow me for a long walk each night after dinner. We visited a sweet shop in Bethlehem, walked for an hour down the road near our Tiberias hotel, and walked from our Jerusalem hotel to the Damascus gate and experienced and savored other sights, and sounds and flavors on the streets. I heartily recommend this trip at least once in a life time!
Pastor David Range, Miami, FL
mid-January I traveled to Israel and the Palestinian West Bank with 20 other
pilgrims on the "Living Stones" program offered by the Jerusalem
Center for Biblical Studies. Our group was able to see all of the historic
sites commemorating Biblical events in the life of Christ without any
difficulty or risk of danger. We also had the privilege of meeting Palestinian
Christians and learned of the excellent work they are doing through secondary
education programs, theological education and health care for children with
disabilities. We felt secure during our visits to these sites and felt
privileged to meet Palestinian Christians working to build peaceful
communities. For three nights the group stayed in Bethlehem less than a block
from Manger Square. Security was quite high during the Armenian Christmas
observance. Some of the group went out that evening to experience the
festivities. Traveling in small groups we felt quite safe.
The American media often presents social struggles in the Holy Land as though the
entire country were in turmoil. While a demonstration or incident may have an
impact on the political and social dynamic of the country, these events occur
only in isolated areas. The E.O. website offers travel and security updates
which are helpful for those planning to travel to the Holy Land. Security
concerns are also a high priority for those leading the programs, and an
itinerary will be altered if necessary, to assure the safety of the group. The
Jerusalem Center staff in conjunction with the onsite E.O. staff is constantly
alert for the security and well-being of all who participate in their programs.
During the time of our visit we were able to move about freely and safely in
busy urban areas as well as quiet rural areas. I was able once again to
experience the spiritual power of the Holy Land and to deepen my faith on this
visit. I would encourage all to "come and see" the Holy Land.
January 25, 2013
Many thanks to the Jerusalem Center, Willis and Brenda Britt, and Educational Opportunities for a wonderful trip to the Holy Land. From start to finish, we felt well cared for and quite safe. We were well escorted and looked after.
Our tours to the sites were informative and enriching. It was amazing and great to be there! To be in the areas where Jesus lived is incredible! Dr. Britt is a wealth of knowledge and we learned a great deal. The Bible has come to life and reading it is so much more meaningful. As a Christian Educator, there are new depths to the lessons I will be teaching the children. This Lent and Easter will take on a new and deeper meaning. This adds so much to our faith, commitment to God, our relationship with Jesus and our work in the Church.
We have been encouraging our friends to take this journey. It was an exceptional experience.
Thomas & Jill Biatek
January 16, 2013
Living Stones Tour
When we first told our family and friends that we were planning a trip to Israel, many of them expressed concerns about our safety and wondered if this was perhaps not a good time to go. After much prayerful consideration, we decided to continue on with our original plans and travel the 2nd week in January. We are certainly glad that we did - it was the trip of a lifetime.
Throughout our trip, we never felt unsafe or even uncomfortable. Everyone we met was friendly and welcoming. We were never in a situation that seemed threatening in any way and we felt as safe as in any city in the US.
Jonathan and Sandra Clark
January 9, 2013
Pathways through the Bible Tour
A group from our church just returned from the Pathways Through the Bible tour. It was a wonderful time of exploration of the Land and Words of Scripture.
Before, during and after the trip friends asked if we felt safe. We certainly did. As we prepared for the trip, I felt safe due to the open sharing of information by our instructor Willis Britt, the Jerusalem Center and Educational Opportunities staff. During the tour that continued with the care of our instructor and bus driver during the trip and the open guidance our instructor provided.
As leader of a small group of 10, including my teenage daughter, I felt no sense of danger or threat in our various travels during our time in Palestine and Israel. Our group spent 3 nights in the Bethlehem area and there was nothing that made me feel unsafe while we were there. We were graciously served by the proprietors of our hotel. We ate at local restaurants for lunch and were hospitably welcomed. Throughout our travels there and to Jericho and other locations we visited in the West Bank we felt welcome and wanted.
It seemed like we were simply one of the other tour groups of various nations visiting the locations we went to. I also felt in good hands under the guidance and leadership of our instructor as we were alone on a twilight walk through Nazareth, in the Wadi Hamman north of Tiberias, traversing Jerusalem streets or in the open air of an empty field above the Hinnom Valley on Mt. Zion. It was pleasant to stop and eat in Druze villiages on Mt. Carmel and the Golan Heights or a pastry shop in Nazareth.
I encourage folks considering a tour to not let concerns about a safe journey keep you from experiencing the living classroom of the Bible through the Jerusalem Center for Biblical Studies. JCBS and EO's network and experience in touring the Holy Land contribute to the welcome and secure atmosphere I experienced in our recent travels.
January 9, 2013
Pathways through the Bible Tour
As our departure date came closer, the U. S. news media began reporting on conflict in Israel. One of our team members had a friend who had just returned to the States and said there was no risk in traveling. Remember, our news media appears to sensationalize their stories.
Upon our arrival in the country, I never once had any safety concerns. You need to use common sense and most importantly, listen to your tour host leader or teacher. I actually felt safer in the
Israeli cities than I have in some U. S. cities.
Don't let the media jeopardize a life-changing experience because it is a journey that you will remember.
January 9, 2013
"I was spiritually and biblically enriched for having this experience, and it will enhance my ministry as I share with a new lens that which I have seen and heard and felt."
Now that we’re back from our 2012/13 Christmas vacation to Israel, we’d like to pass along our observances of safety in the Land. After 4 trips, I have learned to not make travel decisions based upon CNN or FOX news!
While I certainly understand the trepidation that watching the news networks can cause, they do not represent reality! They sensationalize the situation because that gets viewers.
Travelling with any study group through Israel is totally safe, or the tours would not be happening. I was speaking with our Palestinian taxi driver en route from Ben Gurion airport to our hotel in Bethlehem, and he related a story that he had taken a journalist/cameraman to the Gaza area to do a report on a missile strike to a house. When they finally found the house that had been struck, the damage was a small hole in the wall. The camera crew was highly disappointed and the taxi driver said it was all he could do to keep from laughing! He lives in Silwan (City of David), has two small children, and feels totally safe.
This was the first trip for my wife and children and never did they feel unsafe, nor did we ever even think about our physical safety. It just simply wasn’t an issue. I would take them back in a heartbeat.
The places that JCBS will take you are totally safe, much safer than New York City! The hotels are full and the tour buses are everywhere! We wish everyone a blessed and wonderful experience in the Land.
Just Do It!
January 5, 2013
"As I write this reflection, our group is starting our second week of a 15 day journey through Israel. I am amazed at all the resources, pictures and comments everyone has! Each night we gather for a time of reflection. The first few nights at least one person in the group would comment on their hesitations of coming on this journey due to safety concerns. Those comments were certainly always followed up by statements such as, “So where is all this trouble we keep hearing about?”
Several have commented that well-meaning family members and friends questioned the wisdom of traveling to Israel in light of the safety issues. Tonight, during our reflections, a group member stated it quite well, “I have to say to anyone who is hesitant about traveling to Israel not to listen to people who have not been there. Israel is perfectly safe.”
What a memorable, life changing experience this is! I think the mix of wonderful, diverse people make it an even more special journey. I feel very blessed and I am tremendously grateful for having had the opportunity to share this experience with a great group of people. Blessings to all of you...we will never forget this experience!"
Rev. Paul Smith, JCBS SoJourner
January 4, 2013