Robyn (Year '08, PEP '10) is a third-year teacher.
She teaches High School Judaics at the Emory/Wiener School
in Houston, where she will continue in the fall.
My name is Robyn Miller. Typically, May is not a good time to ask me about my life as a teacher. I’m about to finish my third year of teaching, although in many ways it’s been like my first (as I moved from elementary to high school teaching after year two). In May of my second “first year” of teaching, my primary goal is to make it to the finish line without permanently scarring anybody. However, with three weeks left to completing my Pardes commitment, it’s a great time to reflect on my experience as I start to think about what’s next.
Three years ago, I was terrified to have my own classroom. I didn’t feel I had the stamina or the knowledge to produce a year’s worth of lessons. Still, I had a commitment to fulfill, so I had to make the best of it. There were a few things I knew for sure: 1. Absolutely no middle school, 2. High school would be a heck of a lot of work, and 3. I wanted to live somewhere warm. So I started Continue reading →
Tamara Frankel (PEP '09-'11) is in her second year of
teaching at Chicagoland Jewish High School.
It’s one of the first sunny days in Chicago this spring and my students beg me to take them outside for class. We negotiate and decide to review our homework in class, on the board, and then go outside to start the next sugya. Eleven rambunctious and extremely insightful freshmen sit on the grass beside the bleachers while I stand up top. I ask my students to imagine that they are at the foot of Mount Sinai and that God is holding the mountain over their heads, expecting—maybe even threatening—them to accept the Torah. If not, they will die.
My students think I’m crazy. I tell them that Rav Avdimi recounts this dramatic “filling-in-the-gaps” of a pasuk in Shmot 19:17: “ויתיצבו בתחתית ההר” “And they [the Israelites] stood at attention at the foot of the mountain”. For a moment, I’m off the hook; I could never make up this story! Continue reading →
Eryn London (Summer ’06 & ’07, Community Education ’10, Year ’10-’11, Hourly ’11-’12) made Aliya from New Jersey three years ago. She is currently studying in the Manhiga Hilchatit Program at Midreshet Lindenbaum, which is a 5 year advanced Halacha learning program. Beyond learning she also runs activities at a nursing home, teaches theatre, and directs plays on the side.
The brand-new Divrei Mahamal blog is written by the women that are currently studying in the Manhiga Hilchatit Program. The blog should be updated weekly by one of the women. The d’vrei Torah will be written in English, Hebrew or French.
Naomi entreating Ruth and Orpah to return to the land of Moab by William Blake, 1795 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
If your spouse died, your sister’s spouse died, your father-in-law died, and then your mother-in-law decided to go back to her land, and she told you to go back home, what would you do? Continue reading →
Sarah Margles (Year '02, PEP '04) reflects upon preparing
for Shavuot... what does "readiness" mean?
I remember when I first started at Pardes, I would spend much of Fridays getting ready for Shabbat – shopping, cooking, cleaning. When the siren went to light candles, my roommate would inevitably yell out, while running from the bathroom in a towel, “But I’m not ready!!” When we speak of Jewish holidays, we often say things like, “The holidays are so early this year,” or “I love it when Pesach is late.” There is something about readiness that seems integral to our Jewish experience.
Shavuot has a lot to teach about readiness. In Shmot 19:11, as the people are getting ready to receive Torah, God tells Moses to tell the people to go prepare for God will arrive on the third day. But Continue reading →
This time of year in Israel, you can’t really go a week without a holiday. This week we celebrated Yom Yerushalayim – the day that celebrates the unification of Jerusalem after the 1967 war. One year ago on this day I announced to my students and school community that I would be leaving Chicago to pursue my dream of aliyah. This is what I told them:
Yom Yerushalayim 2012/ 5772
Following the 1948 War of Independence, Jerusalem was divided. The Western half of the New City became part of the newly formed state of Israel, while the eastern half, along with the Old City, was annexed by Jordan. During this time period, many ancient synagogues, libraries and centers of religious study in the Old City of Jerusalem were ransacked or were totally and deliberately destroyed. For the next 20 years, Jews were denied access to Old City and no Jews prayed at the Kotel.
In early June, 1967, East Jerusalem was captured by the Israel Defense Forces during the Six Day War. Jews all over the world celebrated the event as the liberation of the city, Jerusalem was once again unified. Today we commemorate this day, dubbed: Yom Yerushalayim, Jerusalem Day , to celebrate this momentous victory. Continue reading →
Shira Abramowitz (Fall 2012) sent us this postcard
from Cape Town, South Africa!
To my amazing friends over in Talpiyot,
Chag Sameach! (Although I understand it may not still be Pesach once this reaches you!)
Just want to send some love & gratitude to your incredible community – I think about you all so much as I travel around the world, and can’t thank you enough for everything you gave to me over the 4 months of fall semester. From amazing life lessons to challenging contexts, to lifelong friendships… Continue reading →
In the Gemara, Shabbat is defined by the work that surrounds it and goes into preparing for it. We light the Sabbath candles to mark the beginning of Shabbat and light the Havdallah candle to mark its conclusion. Shabbat, therefore is book-ended, suspended in time between these two rituals of light. Interestingly enough, lighting a flame is the only Continue reading →
Seven Species of Israel – glass bottle by Avigayle Adler (PEP 2003-05)
Grapes, Pomegranates, Olives, Dates, Figs, Wheat and Barley have a special significance to the Land of Israel and are given special mention and priority on Tubishevat, the Jewish New Year for trees. Indeed they have priority when blessing food as well. I have always been enchanted with Continue reading →
There is nothing like seeing my father dressed head to toe in all white.
His soul hearkens to the time of the Kabbalistic rabbis who, draped in white clothing, would sing Kabbalat Shabbat in the fields. I imagine my father in his Shabbat white watching the sun set with his arms spread like angels’ wings and his heart leaping out of his chest toward his Creator. It is quite a breathtaking sight.
My family takes the Kabbalistic practice of wearing white clothing on Shabbat and many chagim very seriously. Every family member has a section of his or her wardrobe for the special white pieces, including shoes. We appreciate the physical expression of spiritual openness and humility; but my father has always had a special relationship with this practice. Continue reading →
It has been a tough week to be in Boston. It is almost as hard to add anything to all that has been written about the tragedy, confusion, and sadness that the week brought, to Boston and to the world as it looked on. Two seemingly contradictory themes stood out for me, first in my experience (however indirect) of the events of the week, and then in the reflections on those events that spoke to me most. These themes are silence and community.
Silence, because no words were helpful in the immediate aftermath of the bombing, and all too often words were harmful, as Continue reading →