This past January, Lay Centre almnus Avner Ecker returned to Israel. Before leaving he sent his thanks to the community for its support during his time in Rome…
I stayed at the Lay Centre this past October until January, 2012.
I was a fellow at the Cardinal Bea Center for Judaic studies at the Gregorian University. I took two courses: The story cycle of Abraham Isaac and Jacob, with Prof. J.-P Sonnet, and Christian Epigraphy with Prof. Boccharelli. Other than this, I conducted an intensive independent study of the archaeological sites of Rome (in other words I walked around a lot), and wrote my PhD proposal:
The Urban Culture of Roman Judaea/Palaestina and Arabia from the Flavians to the Tetrarchy– Inscriptions in Context.
Upon my return to Israel I will continue writing my PhD in the Institute of Archaeology of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and will continue working as a teaching assistant there for the course: Introduction to Roman Archaeology. Other than this, I will continue work on several archaeological projects: Excavations of Sepphoris, Excavations of Beit-Loya, co-authoring a book about Roman and Hellenistic Jaffa (with Prof. Hannah Cotton, Prof. Jonathan Price, Ms. Anna Veronese, Ms. Yana Tchekhanovets) and reading the Greek and Latin inscriptions from Herodium – King Herod’s fortress and tomb.
While in Rome, I was a stranger in a strange land and the people of the Lay Center gave me a home away from home. A loving trusting open community to which I was happy to return every night. Such peace of mind is absolutely necessary for any work to be done. One cannot work (at least this one) when his soul is tormented by loneliness. Other than this, on another personal level, I have made contacts here with future and present scholars of the church, heard opinions and had daily dialogue with people of different cultures and faiths – there was not a day in which I did not learn something new. I met good people and made good friends.