After 16 years of teaching at WCC, I received my first sabbatical.  It is the most exciting reward I can think of and I still can’t quite believe it!  What’s a sabbatical, a friend asked?   It comes from Sabbath – the biblical day of rest and therefore often is granted in seven year intervals.  It has other references in the bible related to farming – leave a field barren for a year every seven years, to replenish the soil.  And in university settings it’s often given to faculty for alternative assignments, research, publishing, etc. and can last up to a year.  My sabbatical is for four months.  My plan is to travel to Egypt, Israel, and perhaps Turkey to round out the exploration of the Middle East which I started in 2003.   In January, I will prepare my trip and read.  In February of 2011, I will re-activate this blog again and I hope that some of you will be back to check in once in a while and to give me company on the road.  See you soon.  Happy holidays in the meantime.  ET