Posted on September 23, 2011 by Mary Brett Koplen
I originally posted this on my blog after my summer session at Pardes… and I will hopefully be studying with you all next year. I had such an amazing experience this summer, and I can’t wait to be back!
In the three weeks I studied at Pardes, I learned more than I ever knew I didn’t know. Today is our last day of classes, and we students sit in the Beit Midrash making plans for distance learning, trying to figure out how not to say goodbye. We talk about weekly skype chavruta. We talk of coming back.
At Pardes I learned with amazing people. My Chavruta: Chani, Roberta, and Riki each brought something different to our discussions. Riki is a Canadian medical student. Chani teaches laining at at British rabbinical school. Roberta is a retired teacher in L.A. All of these different prospectives have taught me so much about learning and so much about love.
Pardes is really special. It brings Jews together from all different countries, from all different backgrounds, Jews whose futures move in different directions. And it teaches us that the religious, the secular, and those of who inhabit the space in between have so much to learn from each other.
My time at Pardes has given me space to investigate a more religious life: what it means to davin everyday, what it means to observe Shabbat. Here I have gained more vocabulary to question the aspects of Judaism that discomfort me, and the knowledge to try traditionalism among people who don’t question my motives. Here I have gained the confidence to love the multiplicity of Jewish expression.
Pardes in two sentences: Learning doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Learning doesn’t happen alone.