Two weeks ago a group of students were visiting Israel from their Seminary, the Swedish Theological Institute. They came to HUC to share lunch with us and to have an interfaith conversation. It was really interesting to learn about their program, what they are studying and compare their school with ours and what we have been working on this year at HUC.
The lunch was fantastic and I really enjoyed learning about the Church of Sweden. One of the common things that kept coming up was how beautiful their building is. The STI has a building near Yaffo that you can't really see outside the gates, but all we heard was that the space was amazing and that if we had the chance to take a visit there, go as soon as possible because they were moving out in a week to renovate the building.
Mike arranged a visit for us last Friday, and they weren't kidding. The building is gorgeous. It is set up so people can come to study in small groups. The visiting students come for a week, a few weeks, or months to learn and to see many different religions interacting in Jerusalem. They run some very interesting programs out of that location.
It was originally built as a family home, and the designer did not really have his architectural chops worked out. Our guide kept pointing out things that he said no architect would approve of, but somehow it works in this building. The dining room, for example, had three distinct styles or arches holding up the rooms, a lot going on in a very small space.
I was really amazed by the gardens they have in their courtyards, beautiful flowering bushes, an amazing lemon tree in one of the gardens. Quite an awesome place to come to learn for a few weeks at a time.
It was just another one of the hidden treasures you can find in Jerusalem, if you're looking for them.