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Jerusalem center put on hold

PROVO, Utah — The last two administrators to remain at the BYU Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies will return home the first of July, said James R. Kearl, assistant to the president for the Jerusalem Center.

BYU Jerusalem Center
BYU Jerusalem Center Photo: Photo by John Hart

He added that the school does not know when classes will resume at the study-abroad center, where BYU students have been studying the Bible, ancient and modern Near Eastern issues and Hebrew and Arabic for the past 15 years.

In November 2000, conflicts between Israelis and Palestinians forced an early end to the fall semester for 174 students who were studying and traveling in the Holy Land. The program was canceled for the rest of 2000 and 2001.

Because of continued political unrest in the Middle East, coupled with the United States military actions in Afghanistan, Brother Kearl said classes cannot resume until at least fall semester. The university is not keeping a waiting list of students hoping to enroll in the study-abroad program.

Brother Kearl said although classes are not being held, the 125,000-square-foot Jerusalem Center remains open for "a small but steady stream" of tourists. Sunday meetings and concerts also are still held. Three volunteer couples are there, managing hosting and outreach programs.

"The bottom line is that nothing has changed," he said. "We will continue doing what we have been doing for the past eight or nine months into the foreseeable future."

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