(JNS.org) Thirty Israeli Christians have completed the first-ever summer seminar for Arabic-speaking Israeli Christian youths in Haifa.
The program is designed to help young Israeli Christian learn more about their own Christian identity as well as Israeli history.
“When I first came up with the idea for the program, I was modeling it on the Mechina pre-military programs that Jewish youth often attend during their gap year between high school and military service,” said Sondra Oster Baras, director of the Jewish-Christian group Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), BreakingIsraelNews.com reported.
Baras explained that she quickly realized that many Israeli Christian youths do not have a firm understanding of Israeli history or their own history.
“Not only are they lacking in a solid understanding of Israeli history; they have never been given a framework in which to explore their Christian identity and how that relates to Israel,” she said.
Baras added that she is working with Father Gabriel Nadaf, a Greek Orthodox priest and leader of the Israeli Christian Recruitment Forum, which seeks better integration of Christians into Israeli society by encouraging their enlistment in the Israel Defense Forces.
“Father Nadaf’s dream is to start a school but I figured, let’s start small. Let’s start with a summer program that we can implement right away,” said Baras.
Several Christian and Jewish leaders were in attendance for the summer seminar’s graduation ceremony, including officials from the Ministry of Defense and MK Ofir Akunis (Likud), who helped secure funding for the program from the Prime Minister’s office.
“Today marks a milestone in the relationship of Christians and Jews in Israel,” Akunis told the students.