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 →
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 →
Damian (PEP '04-'06) is currently teaching elementary school in Even Yehuda, Israel, and taught for four years at Tarbut V’Torah before making Aliyah with his family.
The time I spent with friends and teachers studying the wisdom of our people at Pardes was a magical time in my life. I was a student, learning every day with people who shared my passion for learning. I lived in one of the most special cities in the world, Jerusalem, and was newly married to the love of my life, my wife Tammy.
During this time it was easy to see the hand of Hashem working in my life. I had the time to reflect, and I did not have the distractions that I have in my life today. I got exactly what I needed, which was clear evidence that Hashem was actively and overtly involved in my life and its direction.
Rachel Meiner (PEP '06-'08) teaches 2nd and 3rd grade Judaic Studies (Chumash, Yahadut, and Tefillah) at The Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, NY. She lives two blocks from school with her husband and four month old daughter, Neomi.
I returned to teaching three weeks ago after being on maternity leave for the past three months. If I thought teaching was exhausting before, teaching and then going home to a four-month-old is exhausting on a whole other level. Every morning I must make sure to leave the house with my brain intact!
Even though this is my fifth year in the classroom, returning as a mom has given me a whole new perspective on my job as a Judaics educator. Two things that remain clear are that I still love my students and that their humor makes all of my efforts worthwhile. I also have much more patience for my students’ parents and their concerns for their children. I have always believed that every child is different and that a teacher must find a way to reach each child, but now I see Continue reading →
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 →
Eric Brief (Yr. 2008-09)
sent us the following reflection of his year at Pardes
to post on These&Those!
Check out his blog to see his beautiful art
and weekly divrei Torah!
Eric Brief – Self Portrait
If I remember anything about my experience at Pardes it is that I got more than I could have ever imagined. I’m not exactly sure why I decided to go as I look back to when I booked my ticket to Israel just two weeks before Rosh Hashanah in 2008. I had just finished college a few months earlier and right before I went to the Burning Man Festival in Nevada I chose that Pardes was the plan for the next year.
I was a pretty skeptical when I arrived. I had a hard time believing that all these people were uprooting their normal lives to come to Israel and actually study Torah – you know – for real. I kind of felt like a spy – like I didn’t truly belong there. A product of Upper West Side NYC Jewish day school, early on in life I secretly decided that nobody truly cared about learning outside of school – except the future rabbis. At Pardes I found teachers that were extremely passionate about their work, lives, and Judaism in general. The students seemed to catch on to this and Continue reading →
How do I explain how student teaching has been so far? I can offer some emotions that I have been feeling.. excited, nervous, overwhelmed, accomplished, confused, frustrated, proud, awe, happy, tired, welcomed… I supposed this just makes you all picture me a crazy roller coaster of emotions! I will try to be a bit more specific. Saligman is an adorable one hallway school. The students all have close relationships with each other and their teachers. I felt likeI was walking into someones home when I began my time at Saligman. Observing classes all week I began to feel like I myself was back in Middle School. If you looked in my observation notebook you would see my notes interrupted by me trying to get the math practice problems on the board or taking notes on Hebrew grammar. I have learned so much so far from my student teaching. I have been constantly impressed at the level of learning in secular and Judaic studies. My actual teaching started last week. By that time I felt like I knew the students and even had most of the names down (which is shocking for those who know about my name remembering challenge!) I was all ready with my slides and handouts. I was ready to cover my three page handout when all of a sudden the class was over and we had only done one page! I quickly made up a meaningful closer and stood in shock when the students didn’t spring up from there seats at the bell. They were really engaged! I had just taught my first lesson in a real day school! I know the students probably saw my crazy big smile as I said goodbye to them and thanked them for their amazing participation. I was so impressed with the thoughtful answers and detailed questions students asked me during the lesson. (Although some of those detailed questions during the Brit Milah lesson were difficult to answer!) All of my frustrations with details on worksheets and worrying about behavior management and content all was washed away by an immense feeling of self pride and belonging. I knew at that moment that with a lot of work, learning and getting to know the pace of the class I would be more than ok for the rest of my student teaching. I feel very respected by the students, even when I wore my neon green wig for Purim. I can now really picture myself as a teacher in a day school. I am so thankful for this experience and I can’t wait to share more about my wonderful 7th graders with you!.
Jessie Gindea (PEP '10-'12) reflects upon
the first Pardes Educators Conference in Baltimore
There have been moments throughout my first year teaching amidst the messy lockers, lost homework, and lunch boxes strewn around the hallways, when my experience at Pardes seems like a hundred years ago. I love my job as the Coordinator of Jewish Life and Jewish Life teacher for the entire middle school at Solomon Schechter Bergen County, but there are days that I yearn for our cozy Beit Midrash on Pier Koenig, the sounds of serious (and sometimes not so serious) learning permeating the Jerusalem air. I deeply miss my brilliant teachers, the time to study Torah, my friends and my cohort. I miss the theoretical discussion about classroom management traded for real students with real behavioral issues. And yet, while I miss having Friday to prepare for Shabbat, I also appreciate real American Sundays more intensely than I imagined was possible. I miss Continue reading →
Originally hailing from Boston, Marty Flashner has a wife and three kids, a law degree, an MBA, and worked for almost thirty-three years with Ernst & Young, one of the largest professional service firms in the world, including running the firm’s tax practice in Connecticut for the last ten years. Yet, for all this career success, Marty now wants nothing more than to leave an impact in his local Jewish community.
He characterizes his early experiences with Judaism as “kind-of mixed.” In third-grade, he rebelled and stopped going to Hebrew school, thus ending his formal Jewish training in childhood. “It was actually much later in life that I really started reading the Chumash and studying it in a more rigorous way,” he said. This study drove a desire to become more involved in his Jewish community, so he began volunteering for a number of different Jewish charities, including his temple, the UJA Federation of Greenwich, CT, and even Continue reading →