Kim Xinai is something of an eye-catcher at Bar Ilan University, an institution of higher learning affiliated with religious Judaism.
Xinai, who is Korean, is studying for her doctorate in Bible Studies, a degree which combines biblical readings with ancient Jewish interpretations.
She speaks perfect Hebrew, and was sent to Israel by a South Korean university to complete her studies. After finishing, Xinai plans to go back home to teach the subject.
"Many people ask me what the connection is between a Korean woman and the bible, and why I came to Israel," Xinai says. "The bible fascinates me, and I was interested in studying and researching it from up close. Usually Koreans study the bible in Germany or the US, but I chose to study it in Israel, the biblical land."
She recounts her Hebrew studies. "I knew that I would study in the original language in which the bible was written," she says. After learning Hebrew, Xinai went on to study her master's degree in Judaism, at the Hebrew University.
Xinai has also traveled to many of the places in which bible stories occurred. "In Korea there is great interest in the bible because 25% of the population is Christian," she says. In her view, God loves everyone but chose to show his love through the Jewish people.
"The students at the university have accepted me very nicely, and one of the students even surprised me by coming over with a plate of kibbeh (Mideast meat dish)," she said. 'I already know I'm going to miss this place when I go back to Korea."
Dr. Elie Assis, who heads the Bible Department at Bar Ilan, says Xinai knows the material and participates in class. "Xinai loves Israel and the Jewish people, and her excellent integration promises us a wonderful ambassador for Israel in her country," he says.
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