Center for Judaic Studies shows students, faculty their biblical heritage with Jewish feasts
Liberty University’s Center for Judaic Studies recently finished the last of three biblical feasts celebrating the beginning of the Jewish New Year. Students hurrying through DeMoss Hall noticed the tent covered with branches outside the center to commemorate Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles.
The Feast of Tabernacles was established by God in Leviticus 23:33-43 as a harvest celebration where the Israelites were to build tents, called booths or sukkot. Branches were used to form the roof and the whole structure commemorated their ancestors’ journey in the wilderness and God’s dwelling with them.
For modern Israelis, it is a religious celebration, a family time and a chance to identify with their forefathers in Israel, Executive Director of the Center for Judaic Studies Dr. J. Randall Price said.
“It’s kind of a fun time for the kids — they get to decorate the booth with all kinds of things, and then they get to have dinner in it,” he said. “It’s like camping outside, and sometimes you get to spend the night in it.”
Celebrating Jewish feasts with students and faculty is part of the Center for Judaic Studies’ mission, Price said. The goal is to help students and faculty both understand the Jewish roots of their faith “and at the same time, use that in worship and in teaching.”
“As an Israeli, I grew up with the Jewish feasts,” Price’s administrative assistant Ayelet Evans said. “Now as a Jewish believer, I love being a part of the Center for Judaic Studies where I can share Jewish celebrations like Sukkot with other Christians and help them see the important relationship between the Jewish feasts, Jesus Christ (Yeshua) and ultimately, God’s plan of salvation for the entire world.”
The center offers classes like biblical archaeology, hosts archaeological exhibits, has a library for Jewish studies, invites speakers to campus and offers annual trips to Israel.
Ultimately, Price would like to see the center expand — ideally to its own building. He said that a stand-alone biblical archaeology museum was part of the late Dr. Jerry Falwell Sr.’s vision for Liberty.
“We bring the context of Israel here in the sense of archaeological artifacts so that people don’t have to imagine these things happening, they can come in and see some of the artifacts associated with the time periods and events mentioned in the Bible,” Price said.
Price has plans drawn by an architect for what that museum might look like, and representatives from Israel have offered to help with the project.
“I have a collection of artifacts for initial exhibition,” he said. “Such a museum would be unique for this area and enhance Liberty’s goal to be a world-class university.”
Price said a museum would provide a solid foundation for biblical history and Israel’s history in the land.
“Here (at Liberty) we have a unique understanding of Israel and its people and its purpose in the plan of God,” Price said. “I think that’s why we have this (center) and why it ought to continue.”