When the people of Israel escaped from slavery in Egypt and wandered the desert for forty years, they needed a way to worship their God as a people while they searched for a homeland. The solution was to build a Tabernacle—a portable temple, or place on earth where God could dwell among the people of Israel. According to tradition, God gave Moses detailed instructions on Mount Sinai for the construction of the Tabernacle on Mount Sinai, where he also famously received the Ten Commandments. In addition to providing a place for the people to direct their worship while they were traveling, the layout of the Tabernacle itself and the rituals performed there were designed to help teach them how to enter into the presence of God.

     The Latter-day Saint Student Association at USC, with support from the USC Office of Religious Life and the John A. Widtsoe Foundation, hosted a life-sized replica of this Israelite Tabernacle in the Office of Religious Life courtyard from April 7-10, 2018. This space was open to students and faculty, who received personal tours from Widtsoe Foundation scholars. An informational app co-developed by the Widtsoe Foundation also allowed visitors to take self-guided tours of this sacred structure.

     Using this Israelite Tabernacle event as a springboard, the Office of Religious Life organized a panel discussion on the topic of religious refugees and displaced peoples. This hour-long event was held Monday, April 9th at the University Religious Center, and featured USC faculty, including Widtsoe Foundation Distinguished Scholar John W. Welch.