Posted on June 5, 2017 by Leah Beck
Four nights ago, after a delicious dinner with some old friends, new friends, and people I had just met, I walked to school. It was already close to 23:30, and while I am often in the Beit Midrash at Pardes late to study on my own, never before had I seen my school so packed with people. The halls were difficult to walk through due to the crowd of humans choosing to study all night for Shavuot in this place where I’ve grown to feel at home. Many of them were students I know and study with on a regular basis, but most of them were strangers from my neighborhood, coming together to experience the insight that can come from studying in the Pardes building.
While I didn’t stay all night, I did go to one session that completely thrilled and inspired me. That session was taught by Judy Klitsner, an esteemed member of the Pardes faculty, whom I had never before had the privilege of learning from. Her lesson, paired with the havruta style discussion with the people sitting around me, was the perfect end to my first year studying at Pardes in Jerusalem.
Throughout this year in Pardes’s Year Program, I have had my ups and downs with text study and struggled to find where exactly I fit into the Pardes community. I went through phases of meaning, where for weeks at a time, everywhere I turned in each of my classes, I was being pointed towards something I needed to hear to improve myself as a learner and as a person. Sometimes that was personal reflection regarding teshuva and other times that was class discussion about the power and importance of kavanah. Midway through my year, after a few life-changing conversations, I made the decision to return to Pardes for Shanah Bet as a student in Pardes’s Experiential Educator’s Program (PEEP). I was overcome with the understanding of my true purpose in studying at Pardes as an opportunity to take what I learn and form it into something digestible for the kids I work with at a Reform Jewish summer camp in the States.
I began a project for my camp, learning all of the summer Parshiot and forming accessible resources for my summer staff. This is where everything about my year comes together. This project helped me form closer connections with my teachers who were all sources of unending support and ideas. This project was my reason for studying in Pardes’s Beit Midrash until late many nights a week. It has been my first step into applying the tools and resources I’ve been given this year to something important to me personally. This project is the reason I chose to study with Judy Klitsner for Shavuot.
Her session provided me with ten new resources for studying Bamidbar 20 and Moshe’s decision to hit the rock instead of speaking to it like God instructed. This Parsha comes during the first week of camp for the campers I’ll work with this summer. Studying late into the night, as my eyes began to droop in the heat of the Beit Midrash packed with people, I found myself still hanging onto the strong words of my teacher. Anything she said could be applied to helping my campers and staff become connected to Jewish text, and the way she spoke reminded me of how grateful I am that my Pardes experience is not yet over.
Shavuot at Pardes brought my school year to a close. It was also the perfect beginning to a summer filled with Jewish teaching and learning.
Pardes Tikun Leil was sponsored by Marilyn Ziering in memory of her dear husband Sigi Ziering z”l – Survivor, America Businessman and Worldwide Jewish Leader and Philanthropist.