These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

The Practical Dictionary of the Pardes Lexicon: Second Edition

Posted on May 27, 2013 by Derek Kwait

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At the end of last year, I gave the world “The Kwait the necessarily abridged First Edition of The Practical Dictionary of the Pardes Lexicon. Now, as my Pardes experience comes to a close, I present this still necessarily abridged Second Edition, to be known as “The Kwait Shayni.” This edition, like its predecessor, is intended as a memento for those who are also leaving, and a gift to those who are coming. You’re still welcome.

* Indicates the entry is to be found in the First Edition.

Chevron – See Processing Session*.

Chevruta – One of the most important relationships you’ll form at Pardes, or in life, your Chevruta is the person you learn sacred texts with. Chevruta works because when approaching a complicated text, two heads are better than one. This is also why ideally, two chevrutas should be on roughly the same Hebrew level and compliment each other’s strengths—for example, someone who likes focusing on grammar, should look for a chevruta who focuses on meaning and vice-versa. Pardes’ uniqueness is that it takes the chevruta concept one-step further by offering Jews of all perspectives the opportunity to chevrute together, and therefore, to compliment one another, thus offering a vision of what is possible in the Jewish world. Chevrutas should keep each other honest and not be afraid to tell their partner when they’re wrong; a good chevruta needs to be able to give it as well as they take it. Often, good chevrutas will find themselves forming a symbiotic relationship with each other and with the text, forming a close, in many ways very intimate, bond with both that can last long after the year is over. A chevruta that doesn’t work is a disaster for both parties where no one really learns anything except how obnoxious that person who sits across from me while I try to learn Torah is (see: Bittul Torah*). For the definitive blog post about Chevruta, see “It’s Not You, It’s Me,” by Lauren Schuchart. But the last word on Chevruta must go to Yaffa Epstein, who famously said, “All is fair in love and chevruta.  (See also: Night Seder.)

CoercionWhile Pardes officially promotes itself as a non-coercive institution (for the exception to this rule, see Fellows), there is an ongoing Machloket* amongst the student body over the extent to which it lives up to this claim, with the fault line more-or-less coming down to those who have had Rav Meir and those who have not. Aside from its value as an ever-ready conversation-starter, Pardes’ coerciveness or lack thereof is also an extremely useful tool for indicating how long someone has been at Pardes. Students of a semester or less will find any joke involving religious practice and coercion hilarious and tell them with abandon, as though they were the first person in Pardes history clever enough to think of humorously suggesting that they find a reminder about davening times a little too coercive for their tastes. Students who have been here from between one and two semesters will laugh at a good coercion joke, but have grown a little sick of them by now. Students in their second or third years, such as Fellows or Educators, will roll their eyes and groan at coercion jokes and have a small thought in the back of their minds that just maybe it’s time they moved on in their lives by now each time they hear one. When teachers speak of coercion, it is usually to get the attention of first-semester students (see also: “Blog, The”*, Community Davening*, Listserve*, Makhloket).

Creative DaveningThe prayer option for those who find Egal Minyan* a little too stifling, this prayer group meets in Room 2 two mornings a week and every day for Mincha. Unlike Egal and Mechitza* Minyans, this prayer group has no fixed liturgy, as it is intended as a safe space for creative spiritual self-expression and innovative new techniques. Like its more traditional counterparts, Pardes students tend to be of one of three minds about this prayer option—some consider it a welcome breath of inspiration in a practice that can too easily become rote and meaningless, some think it’s nice, but for whatever reason wouldn’t daven there on their own, and others, needless to say, consider it Avoda Zara*. It is also notable for taking more people away from the Mechitza Minyan than the Egal Minyan on mornings it meets. If this surprises you in any way, you clearly have not been in Pardes long enough.

Educators – Short-hand term for students in a program affiliated with the prestigious Pardes Center for Jewish Educators (PCJE) [not to be confused with PCJCR, the Pardes Center for Judaism and Conflict Resolution], whether it be the two-year Master’s degree-granting Pardes Educators Program (PEP), or one of the one-year programs: MA Plus Pardes (MAPP), Pardes Experiential Educators Program (PEEP), and, starting next year, Teachers for Jewish America (TJA), the Pardes Teacher Support Directive (PTSD), the Pardes Initiative for Educational Dialogue on Monotheism Over Nihilism and Trinitarianism (PIEDMONT), the Pardes Center for Acronym Education (PCAE), and the Committee for the Re-Election of the Pomegranate (CREEP). You can tell Educators from other students for their high levels of stress, and PEP students in particular for their inability to recall the names of or even recognize many Year Program students.

Fellows – Second-year students at Pardes charged with welcoming new students, serving as role-models in class and in the Beit Midrash, helping to organize Tiyulim*, Shabbatonim, The Blog*, and Night Seder, and working on some kind of project or something. Some even get stipends for this (see also: Coercion).

Night Seder – The perfect way to kick back and relax after a full day of Torah learning, Night Seder gives students the opportunity to learn whatever you want with whomever you want, and hear a usually geshmak dvar Torah and get a David Berman meal (see also: Community Lunch*) for only 10 shekels and hang around with Rav Hayim Leiter and Yaffa Epstein each Monday night. The yeshiva vision of Heaven. And when we say you can learn anything at Night Seder, we mean it—Pardes’ Night Seder is noteworthy as probably the only Night Seder in the world where a student can get up and say he’s looking for people who want to learn the New Testament with him during this time (see: Bittul Torah*) and be still allowed to continue at the yeshiva (see also: Chevruta).

Pardesian – The correct term for a student at Pardes (see also: Pardesnik, Makhloket*).

Pardesnik – The correct term for a student at Pardes (see: Pardesian, Makhloket*).

Shabbaton – One of two weekend getaways Pardes uses to bookend the year, the first in the outskirts of Jerusalem at the very beginning of the year, the second in the Galil at the very end. While each Shabbaton features Torah learning sessions, a leisurely stroll with Meir, a musical community outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat with the sunset, Processing Sessions*, and a tisch, they are most noteworthy for their differences. The first Shabbaton is all sweetness: it’s where you play games to get to know your new community and form connections with all these new, interesting faces around you to get a better sense of who you might want to date during the year. The closing Shabbaton is all bittersweetness: it’s where think about how to move forward after Pardes, how to keep these new connections of all sorts—to Torah, God, Judaism, Israel (in all senses of the term), friends, teachers, and so much more—strong when you have to leave and go back into the real world, and feel deeply how much you truly love nearly everyone here and how badly you’ll miss them (see also: Tiyul*).

Shiur Clali – Lecture meant to give the whole community a chance to learn together each Tuesday from 12-1. And perhaps it will when Mashiach comes. Until then, it is a time for maybe a third of the first-year students to hear an amazing shiur while maybe half of the returning students get a great life-coaching session with DLK, since they already heard this shiur last year, about half of the Educators do homework, and the rest of Pardes takes an early lunch break with no idea of what they’re missing (see also: Bittul Torah*, FOMO*).

Thursday Night – I’m really sorry for what happened, I was super drunk. I know promised not to tell anyone, especially not your boyfriend back home, and especially especially not Michael Hattin, and I won’t. I hope we can continue being spiritual Chevrutas (see also: FOMO*, ‘Shkoyach*).

Women of the Wall –  Controversial Rosh Chodesh group that is a big deal at Pardes. Many Pardes women and men go, and, many more have opinions about it. Thirty years from now, current Pardes students will look back on this time period and remember when blogging about Women of the Wall was all the rage. So many, in fact, that since there’s really nothing more this dictionary can add to what’s already been said. But it can organize it into:

Kwait’s Complete Index to Pardes Women of the Wall Posts Written from 2011-May 2013:




[Non-existent, we’re not that open-minded here.]