FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Almost 140 Fort Rucker children traveled back in time 2,000 years to the city of Nazareth at the post’s annual Vacation Bible School where they experienced what it was like to be a child in biblical times.

Dr. Nancy Jankoski, director of Religious Education, said the June 13-17 activities put the children back into Jesus’ culture, so when they hear a Bible story, they have a better understanding of what it was really like.

“This will help the Bible stories that they learn in church come alive for them. It’s one thing to hear someone talk about something or read it out of a book, like they might in Sunday school class, but it’s another thing to get out there and put on the costumes and act the part. It helps them learn about other cultures and respect the way other people do church,” she said.

Jankoski said the children had a “rip-roaring” good time playing games that Jesus likely played when he was a child, making and wearing headbands from the period, learning to use tools that were invented in biblical times, making soap, beads and toys, tasting foods that Jews would have eaten during Passover, trying different musical instruments that were played then, and going to the synagogue to learn how Jewish people worshiped.

She said what makes the VBS program different from other programs outside the gates is the fact the lessons are presented in ways that are applicable to different Christian denominations.

“The things we are teaching them are common to all Christians. Christianity owes a debt to Judaism,” she said. “Our Messiah, Jesus, was a Jewish person, so it’s important to know something about what Jewish people did to worship so we can know what Jesus would have done, no matter what denomination you may be.”

Nicole Fenner, 19, volunteered to help with VBS by playing the role of Mary for the week. She said she enjoyed seeing how excited the children were to learn and that they really seemed interested in the lessons.

“When I told one little girl named Abby about the story of King Herod going to Egypt, she was leaning forward and her eyes got huge, like she couldn’t wait to hear what would happen next,” Fenner said.

Chaplain (Col.) Dennis Newton, garrison chaplain, played the role of Rabi Ben David for the week. He said the children were very receptive of all that they were being taught and that by the end of the week, they had even picked up a few phrases in Hebrew.