“Til then my heart will stay here”

I wrote this song to the tune of "I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane"

joelevmanNone of my bags are packed,
Though I must go.
My here now has come to a close.
I wish I didn’t have to say goodbye.
But the dawn is breakin’,
It’s early morn.
The hope’s still here,
It’s growin’ more.
Even though it doesn’t seem alive.

Stand with me and hold my hand,
Tell me that you’ll love again,
Maybe we can rid the world of hate.
‘Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane,
Until the day when I return again.
Til then, my heart will Continue reading



I am an incoming Pardes student, spending this summer in 
Israel, and blogging about my experiences. This post is from 
my blog:

m4g3rBy the end of last week, I needed a separation from “Breaking News”, Facebook, and political discussion. I’ve seen too many photos and cartoons expressing anger, violence, revenge, hatred, a side of human nature that I don’t want to see. Images that stay with me in an upsetting way.

Jerusalem is a holy city, steeped in history and spirituality, a strong sense of kavanah. There are tourists and pilgrims here from all over the world with so many forms of religious observance. It’s the heart of the religious world. It’s been five weeks since I arrived here. Despite everything that is happening in Israel right now, I can’t think of a time in my life when I have been happier. I feel more alive here – Continue reading


From my blog:

1263825_10200935430723158_953178482_oWhile living in Tel Aviv last month I had the luxury of spending my time at ulpan (intensive Hebrew study), for four days a week, four hours a day. In June, I relaxed, studied my Hebrew, went to the beach, frequented some amazing cafes, and generally just enjoyed my vacation and the break from the crazy schedule that I have throughout the academic year. I walked freely around Tel Aviv during the day and at night, by myself, with friends, and I had no qualms about it.

Knowing that I was moving to Jerusalem for my second month in Israel I anticipated a change. I knew that Jerusalem was a holy city, a place where the Jewish traditions were observed by the majority. I was ready to have a more “religious” experience, knowing that I would be surrounded by observant Jews and a community where I would truly feel at home. Continue reading

A word on events unfolding in Israel

From our blog:

lishoeAlthough we are still catching up on our blog posts from the whirlwind of the first few weeks of our stay here in Israel, I wanted to jump for a moment to the present and speak about the current tensions happening around us.

First, I want to assure everyone that Lisa and I feel quite safe here in Jerusalem. Despite the sensational headlines and heated rhetoric being broadcast (or not) on the news, life in most of the country (including in most of Jerusalem where we are now) is quite normal. People are going about their business, living their lives and sipping their coffees, sending their children off to summer camp. Tourists shop, the markets are bustling, and the weather is beautiful. Israelis have a gift for almost defiant normalcy, and it is extraordinary that even with the tension surrounding all of us that life can and does go on pretty much as safely and normally as always. Continue reading

Supported and Safe

joelevmanHi! I’m Joe, currently a Hillel professional from Baltimore, Maryland. I initially came to Pardes this summer partly because I was told that it would be a truly rewarding experience and because I felt that I need to study some Jewish text in a “formal way”. What I have experienced so far at Pardes has been tremendous. I am finding myself enjoying studying things like Talmud and Mishna. I was nervous about coming initially because I never spent so much time in a foreign country nor traveling alone before. Pardes has really provided a community for me to learn and feel a part of a family. Even though this is a challenging time to be here with everything going all I still feel supported and safe. Both times the sirens have gone off, I found myself surrounded by people from Pardes, both students and faculty. Whether it was seeing the staff at the supermarket or outdoor concert or seeing messages on Facebook or email asking how we were and giving us the chance to connect and express our feelings. I am so thankful that I am able to do Pardes this summer, I know that I only have 2 weeks left but I’m already scheming about a way to come back in the future. 


Dear incoming Pardes students

elashilDear incoming Pardes students nervously biting your fingernails while watching rockets fly on their TV screens,

I won’t lie. Israel is at war. Rockets are terrorizing the country and ground troops are waiting for the okay to enter Gaza. It’s a tense time for Israel.

That being said, this morning I woke up to my alarm clock and casually walked to Pardes. Then I struggled to understand Rashi in the Beit Midrash, and am now thinking about whether or not I feel like pizza for lunch, or falafel… Continue reading

To the incoming Pardes student

r4ch31bTo the incoming Pardes student who’s watching the news and feeling anxious,

I know how it is. You’re reading the headlines about everything going on in Israel and you’re thinking, “Wait, am I sure I want to go over there?” Allow me to be the voice that speaks insistently in your ear and says, “Yes, you do! Come!”

For sure, this IS a tense time, and there ARE unknowns about what lies ahead. But the fact remains that Jerusalem is, by and large, a safe city where life continues as usual. A few hours ago, an alert siren sounded over the city (only the second one we’ve had, by the way!). I was walking home from Pardes when it began, and Continue reading

July 4th – Old Family/New Family

From my blog:

134h135chThe closing dinner for the Pardes Executive Seminar was held last night at the picturesque Khan Theater and it was not surprisingly a fitting close to a remarkable week. I’m sad that my time here has come to an end; but in some ways it feels like a beginning. I have amassed so much knowledge in such a short time; I’m literally bursting and I have had the privilege of experiencing something truly exceptional. Continue reading

July 2nd – The Fabric of Normal

From my blog:

134h135ch… In the mean time, the Learning at Pardes continues to be stellar. The atmosphere is tinged with sadness, the funerals took place and families stared sitting shiva; but our learning continues and as one of the Rabbi’s said yesterday, Rav Kook would have approved that approach. As I learned today, Rav kook espoused that when faced with evil we must act with loving kindness and justice.

Memorial table set up at Pardes

Memorial table set up at Pardes

Today I had the good fortune to work in chavruta (partner style learning) with Danny Landes for a short bit – he is the Director at Pardes – a brilliant mind, colorful personality and incredible Torah scholar. Continue reading

[Alumni Guest Post] PS: Story Time (2)

From my blog:

Unsolicited life advice from fellow bus passengers

haneloSome of the most interesting stories from this year have happened on buses. (Maybe it’s because Israelis will talk to anyone like they’re family, whether you’re interested in talking or not. Maybe it’s just because I spent a lot of time taking buses.) Here are just a few:

- A religious woman gets on a Jerusalem city bus, plops down on the seat facing me and asks, in an American accent, if it makes a certain stop. I tell her it does. Oh, where am I studying? How do I like it? She had heard such wonderful things. As she’s getting off the bus she calls back to me “Move back here and raise your family! Great medical insurance and no yeshiva tuition!” Continue reading