Spiritual Trip To Israel Also A Political Lesson For Wyoming Lawmaker

State Rep. Jeremy Haroldson says a 10-day trip he recently took to Israel has given him a new perspective on how to approach legislation at the Wyoming Capitol.

Leo Wolfson

April 02, 20236 min read

Wyoming state Rep. Jeremy Haroldson in Jerusalem during a 10-day trip to Israel earlier this year.
Wyoming state Rep. Jeremy Haroldson in Jerusalem during a 10-day trip to Israel earlier this year. (Photo Courtesy Jeremy Haroldson)

State Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, may have been elected to deal with Wyoming problems, but he now has a little more understanding of issues taking place in Israel.

Haroldson said he wants to bring lessons he learned on a Christians United For Israel (CUFI) trip to the Wyoming Legislature in Cheyenne.

Haroldson, a pastor, recently took a 10-day trip with 26 other U.S. pastors to the Middle Eastern country. 

 “Uniting the churches to understand that Israel is a legitimate country deserving of the protection and safety that comes from being a country,” Haroldson said of the trip’s purpose. “The partnership that America has with Israel, that Wyoming needs to have with Israel, is vitally important.”

Each of the 10 days were rigorous, waking at 4:30 a.m., walking about 7 miles a day and not going to bed until 11 p.m., Haroldson said.

But the trip wasn’t a vacation. The pro-Israeli Christian American organization CUFI wants participants to gain a better understanding of the geopolitical landscape in Israel and the country’s vast spiritual history.

The trip was split between geopolitical lessons and visits to important Holy Land sites.

State Rep. Jeremy Haroldson, R-Wheatland, at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem during a recent 10-day visit to Israel. (Photo Courtesy Jeremy Haroldson)


Israel, a pro-Western country and ally of the United States, finds itself in the middle of the historically volatile Middle East, surrounded by allies and enemies on all borders. Israel’s total square mileage is about equal to the combined acreage of Platte and Goshen counties in Wyoming.

Yet the nation performs well above its weight in a number of economic and political categories and is considered a global military and economic power. 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s most enduring, coming to a head in the mid-20th century with the first Arab-Israeli War in 1948. The conflict, sparked from a Jewish exodus to Israel following World War II, has significantly shaped the identity of both countries.

The everyday reality Israelis deal with is one few Americans can relate to. Suicide bombings and civilian airstrikes frequently rain down in public spaces in both lands.

“The ever-changing and always-active conflict that Israel has to deal with in the realm of being a 45-mile-wide country in the defensible space, or lack thereof that they deal with,” Haroldson said. “We don’t have rocket threats. We don’t have the sirens going off, having 7-15 seconds to get into bunkers. That’s just the life they live.”

Often, the geopolitics of the two countries coalesces with biblical history. Thousands of Jews emigrate to Israel from around the world each year, seeing the country as their destined homeland. Bethlehem and the Gaza Strip are in Palestine while Jerusalem is in Israel.

Historic Sites

Haroldson got to visit the Gaza Strip and Golan Heights, located on the country’s northern border with Syria.

Here, he learned about how the Syrian civil war has impacted Israel, even though it’s not an engaged party in that conflict. Iran, with which Israel maintains a hostile relationship, has poured munitions into Syria, creating a bit of a proxy arms race with Israel as a result, Haroldson said.

In coordination with the Alma Research and Education Center, the group was given mock scenarios involving Iranian surface-to-surface missile movements, which they had to make decisions upon for Israel.

The game is a political simulator for the same decisions Israel makes on a daily basis.

“Then they show you potential consequences of your decisions,” Haroldson said.

Those consequences are usually felt on their own soil and can bring war and death to their citizens. 

Although the ramification of decisions made in the Wyoming Legislature are not as dire, Haroldson said the lesson reminds him that every vote affects Wyomingites on at least some level, and some having generational impacts.

“The small decisions we make during the legislative session in Cheyenne will echo into large decisions for generations to come,” Haroldson said. “Do we work for the moment, or do we work for the long term?”

He said this type of outlook should add an extra layer of decision making for legislators.

Cultural Melting Pot

Despite the fragile state of life there, Haroldson said he’s amazed with the upbeat and carefree way many Israelis live their lives.

“There were kids in the streets laughing and having fun and parents were not concerned about their kids running 150 feet, 200 feet up ahead of them,” he said. “The culture there is very much a culture of community.”

Perhaps most remarkable is the richly diverse culture of the country, he said. Each day he could hear Adhan, the Islamic call to public prayer, ring out. 

“You’ve got very strong Judaism in their culture, which is very much traditional,” Haroldson said. “Then you turn around and you’ve got the Palestinian culture, which is more Muslim based. Then you’ve got the Christian corridor, which is kind of a melting pot.” 

This also showed itself in the wide variety of food available, ranging from traditional Middle Eastern shawarma to German schnitzel.

The second-term legislator also was taken aback by the rich spiritual history of Israel, home to some of the most significant biblical sites in the world like Caesarea, Bethlehem and Nazareth. 

“It’s empires and it’s dynasties it’s battles and it’s historical and it’s biblical,” he said. “All those things all tied into one mountain or one face or one river system.”

Lasting Impact

Haroldson was supposed to take the trip in 2020, but was delayed multiple times because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The trip that finally took place this month was the fourth rescheduled voyage.

Haroldson looks at that delay as a bit of a silver lining. While waiting to go, he entered the political sphere for the first time and has spent the past three legislative sessions at the state Capitol. He said the experience of working in politics and traveling to Israel directly out of the 2023 legislative session gave him a perspective not shared by the 26 other pastors on the trip.

“You see it in a very different light. My brain was very much on legislation still,” he said.

This mindset led Haroldson to ask much different questions than his fellow group members, posing inquiries about Israel’s road work, food industry, health care and general infrastructure. 

“They do things really really well, yet there’s still a feeling that I know I’m in the Middle East,” he said.

Haroldson said he plans to bring a group from his Impact Ministries church in Wheatland to Israel in 2024 or 2025.

Share this article



Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter