I N D E X
LDS Church Leaders
Mormon Presence in Israel since 1968
Brigham Young University - Jerusalem Center
Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center
The Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near-Eastern Studies is a study center for Brigham Young University situated on Mount Scopus in Jerusalem, Israel. The center teaches curriculum concerning Near Eastern history, Hebrew and Arabic language, and the Gospels in the New Testament. The center has remained closed since 2000 because of the continuing Second Intifada and its complications against ensuring security.
Brigham Young University began its Jerusalem study program in 1968, first at the City Hotel in Jerusalem. After four years, the students were moved to the Vienna Hotel in Sheikh Jarrah. In 1978, the program relocated to dormitory facilities in Kibbutz Ramat Rachel.
Construction and controversy
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints finally bought a plot of land on Mount Scopus, and construction for the BYU Jerusalem Center began in 1984. Because of its prominent location in the Jerusalem skyline, construction was quickly noticed, and this sparked a major controversy in Israel and in the Jewish world as a whole, leading to careful diplomatic negotiations between the LDS Church and Jewish leaders, to ensure that the Church would not use the Center as a base to proselytize in the Jewish State. Eventually this dispute was settled, and the Center opened to students in 1987, and the building was dedicated for Church use in 1989. As part of the agreement, students are forbidden to proselytize. If a student breaks this agreement, he or she is sent home. Students also must dress conservatively out of respect for the local religions and while in Israel observe the Sabbath on Saturday.
Since then, the BYU Jerusalem Center has been a tourist attraction as well as a study center. It is used often as a backdrop for wedding photographs. The Center also developed a tradition of hosting musical concerts on Sunday nights, which became frequented by elite Israeli musicians, transforming the Center's reputation as a center of culture as well. The Center is also known for hiring both Israelis and Palestinians on their staff.
2000 - Second Intifada causes closing
After the onset of the Second Intifada, security for BYU students became increasingly difficult to maintain, and the Center closed indefinitely to students in 2000.
2006 - Center Remains Closed
On June 9, 2006, officials announced their intention to reopen the Jerusalem Center for the Fall 2006 semester. However, escalating violence in the area from the 2006 Israel-Lebanon Conflict frustrated these plans and raised new concerns about students' safety in the area. School officials have deemed the center will remain closed until the current conflict is resolved.
BYU students will not return to Jerusalem Center this fall. BYU News.
BYU Jerusalem Center official website