I don’t mean that I got home and things were different, they were but I’l get to that a little later. This summer I am working at Emma Kaufmann Camp, in Morgantown West Virginia. This is the camp affiliated with the JCC of Pittsburgh, and I have two second cousins who attended.
Blue Ridge Mountains? Check!
Country Roads? You betcha!
Jewish life? Not so much…. Continue reading →
I presented this dvar torah at the Pardes Center for Jewish
Educators commencement ceremony on Wednesday:
Almost two whole years ago, as we were first settling in at Pardes, a classmate looked around the room at our PEP cohort and said, “Wow, we are a group of very different personalities.” And it’s true; we all do have very different perspectives.
In this week’s parasha, Korach, we see the clash of some very different personalities. Korach and his allies question Moshe and Aharon’s right to lead Bnei Yisrael and are duly punished.
Pirkei Avot 5:17 presents Korach and his allies as an example of how not to argue:
Any dispute that is for the sake of Heaven will have a constructive outcome.
But one that is not for the sake of Heaven will not have a constructive outcome.
Which is a dispute for the sake of Heaven? The dispute between Hillel and Shamai.
And which was not for the sake of Heaven? The dispute of Korach and his entire company.
Pirkei Avot sets up a contrast between two different types of disputes. The more constructive disputes are those that are for the sake of Heaven, as Continue reading →
Relative to life, Hannah and I are new friends. Even though we knew each other before, we really met at the beginning of this year. I was lucky enough to room with her at the first Shabbaton of the year where I finally got the inside scoop on the engagement. (Eitan really couldn’t provide enough details for my needs.) And then I was invited to the Landes’ for Sukkot and well, let’s just say, I have been a Landes’ family groupie ever since.
If you haven’t been to the Landes’ yet for a meal, you’re missing out, but if you have, you know that the best part is coming over the night before to help prepare for the meal! You get to hangout with their family, chit-chat, laugh and feel the love that naturally bursts from their home. So I happened to be in this situation in their kitchen cutting up vegetables talking with Hannah and her mom, Sheryl. And I suddenly found myself in a very safe place, so safe that Continue reading →
Shanee Michaelson (Summer ’11, Spring ’12, Fall ’12)
Dear Pardes Year ’13,
It’s been nearly 4 months since I’ve seen you all. Now most of you are getting ready to return to North America. Here are a few things I’ve experienced since I’ve been back. I hope this helps prepare you!
Size MattersEverything is a lot bigger in America. This includes the streets and highways, stores and clothes, restaurants and food portions. One of the first places I went to after landing in Los Angeles was a local 7/11. I was rather shocked at how big it was. You could fit 3 makolets in there easily. Getting a “small” slurpee that’s over twice the size of an Israeli coffee is also a bizarre experience. It feels as if everything has been super-sized while you’ve been away. The funny thing is that you realize it was always like this- you just never perceived it before.
The Friendliest non-friends you’ll ever meetWhat is with customer service in the US? I just Continue reading →
The most challenging course I am taking at Pardes is called “Critical Issues in Modern Jewish Thought.” There is no Hebrew involved. There is no Aramaic. I don’t even have to memorize birth and death dates of famous Jewish thinkers. What I do have to do, however, is think for myself. And it’s hard.
Cynthia Ozick, American-Jewish author and essayist
During each session, we alternate between group discussion and silent reading. We read philosophers such as A.J. Heschel, Mordechai Kaplan, Rav Soloveitchik, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, and Cynthia Ozick. We covered topics such as the nature of God, the authorship of the Torah, the authority of Halahkah, and post-Holocaust theology. At the end of each unit, a few students volunteer to give a presentation: as a class, we generate a series of questions that the presenting students have to answer. Next week, I will be presenting on the topic of Feminism in Judaism. Today, while preparing to speak about this topic, I found myself spending many thoughts and minutes on each sentence; this is a tough issue that I care about greatly. It inspired a good deal of personal reflection, and 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 →
Since moving to Israel nearly nine months ago, I cannot count the number of times I have had the following conversation with people I meet once it has been established that I am learning at Nishmat….
NewPerson: And your husband? What is he doing this year?
Me: He is learning at Pardes.
NewPerson: Why aren’t you also at Pardes?
The answer is simultaneously incredibly simple and incredibly complex: Nishmat was the right fit for me for this year. I wrote about it when I first posted that I was coming here, so I won’t get into all those details again now. However, I have felt all year that I could have been just as happy at Pardes, and I would have grown just as much – though perhaps in slightly different ways and speeds.
On the surface level, the two institutions appear so very different from one another. Nishmat is an Orthodox women’s midrasha and Pardes is a pluralistic co-ed yeshiva. But realistically they are both serious places of learning with a diverse faculty and student body, where students learn Gemara, Tanach, and Jewish thought. Both are places where “young adults” take a year (or more) out of their lives in order to learn more Jewish text and explore Continue reading →
I shared the following words at Pardes, wishing my friend Yevgenia and her family chizuk (encouragement, support) and Hashem’s rachamim (mercy).
She was born with a congenital heart defect, which has always impacted the quality of her life. Last Sunday, a week ago, I was not entirely surprised to learn that she had been hospitalized.
Yevgenia inspires me to believe that we can all achieve more than we may believe possible if only we push ourselves to succeed and live our lives to the fullest. She has certainly done so herself. 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 →
Chanan Kessler (Year 1985-86) shares
the following reflection with us in
his mother's memory. Chanan is a NYC
school teacher, and lives in The
During the year that I recited the Kaddish after the death of my beloved mother, Hinda Yael bat Yosef v’Chaya, may her memory always be with us, I asked myself many questions. What was the purpose of saying Kaddish? For whom was I saying Kaddish (myself or my mother)? How was Kaddish related to mourning? In her honor and to help process my thoughts and feelings, I kept a blog in which I mused about these and other questions.
Nothing in life prepares you for mourning the loss of a parent. The idea that the person who gave you life is no longer in the world is incomprehensible. I had nineteen months after my mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer to get used to the idea, and I understood that I’d soon be a mourner. But there is an existential divide between the “regular” world and the one occupied by mourners.
Becoming a mourner and living without my mother was and continues to be uncharted emotional territory. One of my mother’s many life messages was to strive continuously for Continue reading →