These and Those

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

Pardes *is* my family

Posted on January 23, 2014 by Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez

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MSGAs I progress in my pregnancy and it becomes so visibly obvious people become more and more free with their questions, and one of the most common ones I get goes something like this:

Person: Are you going to have the baby here or go back to America?

Me: Here! πŸ™‚

Person: Is your family going to come?

Me: No. We plan to move back when the kid is a few months old, so we’ll make do with Skype for the first bit… Hooray for modern technology!

Person: Wow. It must be so hard to imagine doing it without family! (Common alternatives: I can’t imagine doing it without my family, I’d never do it without my family, You’re brave for doing it without family, etc.)

But the reality is, I’m not doing it without family. The Pardes community is my family. While none of us are related by blood, we share a great bond and are always willing to jump up and step in where biological family would in many cases. We are a logical family, if not a biological one.

Many of us do not have relatives in this country, and when we need things, we rely on each other. Recently one student had an emergency surgery and we rallied together for hospital visits, food, and offering support. People shlepp things back and forth from North America for each other regularly. When a new student arrived without luggage or Shabbat plans students were happy to help on short notice. We don’t do it for accolades, we do it because its the right thing to do and because we are a family.

Currently there are clothes for my unborn child in the suitcase of a faculty member and the parent of a student to be imported from America. PCJE students who will be in America for their student teaching around the time s/he is born have already offered to bring back more things once we know what works for us. One of my amazing chevrutot asked last week about organizing people to bring us meals. And countless friends have offered to give this baby more love and snuggles than it will know what to do with when we go back to school.

If thats not family, I don’t know what is.