Naomi Minsky (Year '13, PEP '15) came to Pardes this year
for the Year Program, and will be returning next year as a
member of the Pardes Educators Program!
Since my teenage years I secretly wanted to pursue a career as a doctor. This is not because I am scientific and enjoy learning about the human anatomy. In fact, I go into panic-mode at the sight of blood. I was attracted to helping others live life to the full. Thankfully I have found an alternative route to achieve my aim.
Unlike medicine Jewish education does not literally save lives. However, it supports people to have meaningful experiences and relationships. It is a way to help others appreciate Judaism and approach it with confidence. My Bat Mitzvah involved facing the community and saying the shema prayer. The whole time I looked directly at my grandparents. They were sitting in the front row saying the words back to me. I am indebted to my Jewish education teaching me that the shema is an affirmation of Jewish identity and love of G-d. I felt the beauty of the experience as I was connected to my family, community and religious tradition simultaneously. Jewish identity today is multifaceted, for some it is Continue reading →
It is usually considered good practice to connect one’s Dvar Torah about the Parshah to some current event or to an upcoming holiday. As such, I want to find some segue between this week’s Torah portion – Parshat Shemini – and Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day, which will be commemorated in Israel next Monday. In truth, it is actually next week’s double portion of Tazria-Metzora under whose purview Yom HaShoah falls this year, but Shemini, and its telling of the death of Aharon’s sons, Nadav and Avihu, at God’s hands, because they “offered before the Lord alien fire which He had not enjoined upon them,” is often referred to as a jumping-off point for speaking about the death of six million Jews during the Holocaust.
Hannah Grossman is an explorer. Her Jewish journey has taken her from the farthest ends of the earth to the deepest corners of her psyche. Yet the further she has traveled from her native New Jersey, the closer she has come to finally finding her Jewish home.
Hannah grew up in West Orange, NJ to an observant Conservative family. She describes her neighborhood as “very Jewish,” and between her neighborhood and her twelve years spent in a Solomon Schechter day school, “growing up I pretty much knew only Jews.” For her, a large part of what that Jewish environment meant was a commitment to social justice in her home, synagogue, and school, a Jewish value that would remain constant through all the journeys life would later take her on. Continue reading →
One thing that is very real lately at Pardes is the Jewish life cycle; particularly, the end. Last week many students traveled to Alon Shvut to support Zvi Hirschfield at the funeral of his father. And just last night, many students and people from the community gathered in the Beit Midrash for an azkara or a type of “remembering” of Janet Robbin.
Janet Robbin was the mother of Sheryl Robbin, Rav Daniel Landes’ wife. Rav Landes is the Rosh Yeshiva at Pardes. Janet Robbin was also the grandmother of Hannah and Isaac Landes who I have become close with over the past year and a half at Pardes because the Landes’ always invite students to their home for Shabbat and holidays. If you have never met anyone of the Landes’, all I can say is that they are all lovely and unique, each with their own wonderful qualities. Continue reading →
Dan (Year '10) shared the following reflection
on Facebook... his writing is poignant as usual!
Dear MLK: from one flawed human being to another flawed human being who changed the world – how did you do it? How did you see a different reality when others said there’s no chance that it will come true? Did you lean on others at that moment? Maybe you trusted your faith?
Every year I see your “I have a dream” speech on your birthday. God, how you believed in that dream, and hundreds of thousands of people believed in it with you, and together you changed the world, and I grew up in a reality in the United States that now has an African American president, a reality that you didn’t get to see, but bequeathed to us.
Sydni Adler (Year ’13) and Ben Gurin (Year ’13) met during the Summer of ’10 in Washington DC, as participants on the Mechon Kaplan program of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism. Together with their cohort, they took classes on Social Justice and Judaism, and each interned for an NGO; Sydni worked on campaign finance reform at ‘Common Cause‘, and Ben worked at ‘Jewish Funds for Justice‘. Over the course of that summer, the two of them gradually became best friends, as they found themselves constantly gravitating towards one another.
Unfortunately, the young duo had a geographic problem: Ben was a Midwesterner, a third generation legacy student at Indiana University; and Sydni had grown up on the West Coast near L.A., and attended college on the East Coast at Swarthmore. For several months after their Mechon Kaplan summer had ended, they spoke by telephone daily, even though “they weren’t in a relationship”, and then Ben came to California to check out HUC in L.A during Fall Break in October. He visited for several days with Sydni and her family, and then asked her out while she was behind the wheel on the perilous 101/405 Interchange… to which Sydni responded, “Could you just give me 10 minutes?”Continue reading →
Here being Jerusalem, a city that many nations hold dear due to its history and importance in relation to their people, their culture, their religion. As a proud member of the Jewish religion and culture, I find this place resonates with me on an impossibly deep level. I feel the ties to the land, not magically or mythologically, but rather in a historical sense; with understanding and awe that my ancestors have considered this land sacred for longer than I can truly comprehend. That this land has served as a place of refuge and of tragedy, of life and of death. And that the experience I have today while living in Jerusalem is inextricably tied to the experience my ancestors had in this land so long ago. Continue reading →
So I decided today to go to the botanical garden in Jerusalem. I have always wanted to go, but have never found the time, well now I made the time!
So I brought my map, and the multiple bus directions that I looked up and hoped I would find it. Well I did but it was not as easy as I thought it would be. I ended up getting off the bus too early, walked for about 30 minutes and finally found a sign for the botanical gardens. But you got to love Israel and their lack of signs, I could not find the entrance!! I was so close, I could see the garden, but I couldn’t find a way in. It reminded me of Kafka’s Before The Law. A short story I read in high school.
This fence, where i couldn’t even find an entrance, was there for a reason.
So I ended up pretty much walking almost the entire circumference until I found the entrance! I have never been so happy to find an entrance sign in my life!!
Daniel Weinreb, you are truly a scholar and a gentleman and having you as a colleague these past two years has been wonderful. I want that “sugya” you wrote for closing lunch. In return, I’ll give you a copy of our spiel, (PAUSE) assuming there are some left that weren’t burned in protest.
I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you and give hakarat hatov:
I find myself counting down to Shabbat this week, longing for that peacefulness and a little time to rest. Here’s a poem I wrote a few years ago that was originally published in Hazon He-ATID, the Friday Night Live prayer book of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.
on nights when the air is still
jasmine blooms by moonlight,
and dainty cockroaches scatter
on broken cement sidewalks.
I think of my grandfather,
bald head beneath his kippah; I see
his salt and pepper mustache,
black walking stick,
crisp white shirt, dark blue suit,
and mischievous smile.
I see him greeting us
at his front door, ready
to celebrate shabbat
for all of us
the worries of the week