Paul McKibben reports:
This fall, 13 Jewish and Christian senior citizens from Warren County will embark on a once-in-a lifetime trip to the Holy Land.
It’s more than a sightseeing trip to a revered, ancient part of the world. It’s a chance for residents of Jewish-affiliated Cedar Village in Mason and United Methodist-affiliated Otterbein Lebanon in Turtlecreek Township to come together and intimately learn about their faiths, which share a common origin.
This will be the third time Cedar Village has taken a group to Israel but its first inter-faith trip.
Carol Silver Elliott, CEO and president of Cedar Village, recalls the first trip, in 2007. That’s when members witnessed a group of people on their knees crying in the Old City of Jerusalem.
A shopkeeper told Elliott they were at the seventh station of the cross, part of a series of prayers. The seventh station is when Christians recall Jesus Christ falling a second time while carrying his cross on the way to being crucified.
“For me as a Jew, it was like ‘Oh my gosh. I forget that this is the birthplace of all of the world’s major religions, not just Judaism,’’ she said.
Elliott said the idea of an inter-faith trip “had been percolating in the back of my brain.” Her husband, Tom, works at Otterbein, so she is familiar with the community. She met last year with Otterbein President and CEO Jill Hreben, who loved the idea.
Elliott hopes the trip sets an example for others. She said the travelers, who ages range from mid 60s to late 80s, are open to learning about other beliefs.
“What’s wrong with the rest of us that we (often) can’t get along? I think there’s a big symbolism there,” she said.