This week, Neima Novetsky discusses Parashat Tazria-Metzora in “The Woman who has Given Birth.”
This week, Neima Novetsky discusses Parashat Tazria-Metzora in “The Woman who has Given Birth.”
Posted by Carrie Bornstein (Year '06) on the Mayyim Hayyim blog:
My five-year old has been asking for a while if she can go swimming where I work. She loves Mayyim Hayyim, which is probably not entirely unrelated to the never-ending supply of animal crackers and pretzels. In the past few months her requests have gotten more frequent. So I engaged her in the conversation.
“It’s not really swimming, you know, like in the summer, just for fun. Usually there’s a reason that people come – like a big deal thing that’s going on in a person’s life that they want to mark in some way.”
“I know,” she said immediately. “I can go because we’re having a new baby!”
Well, look at that, I thought. She gets it. I let her know that, in fact, lots of people immerse when they’re expecting a baby, and that becoming a big sister for the second time, or a “double big sister” as we call it, is a really big deal.
The two of us visited a few weeks ago. On the ride there I explained a little more Continue reading
Sara Brandes (Year ’01, Fellows ’02, Elul ’05) shares her Pardes reflections:
I met my friend, teacher and fellow Pardes alumna Rabbi Shawn Fields-Meyer during the summer before I arrived at Pardes, as a participant in the Brandeis Collegiate Institute. Inspired by her teaching and hungry for more, I sought her out. When I told her that I was on my way to Pardes, she responded, “Oh! You’ll be FINE! Pardes is the beating heart of the Jewish world. You’re going to get everything there that you are looking for.” And, she was right.
At the time, I was a Jewish young adult, raised within the magical combination of Jewish day school and summer camp. I was Jewishly affiliated, dating the Jewish man (fellow Pardes alum, Hyim Brandes ’00-02, ‘04-05) who would one day become my husband. I had studied Religion and Bible as an undergraduate at Emory University. In all of that time, I had learned just enough about Torah to know that I knew almost nothing at all. I had studied Hebrew, but could not speak Hebrew with confidence. I had studied Bible stories, but felt no ownership over our shared Jewish library. Pardes changed all of that.
During my first year at Pardes, I felt as though I was inhaling Torah. At the time, I often used the analogy that after years of accessing Judaism from the outside, Pardes was like an Jewish IV drip. Torah just flowed in, giving me new life. My teachers at Pardes became my rabbis. My hevrutot became my life-long friends. Continue reading
By Shoshana Rosen
How do I even begin to put into words, an experience that in its essence has no words?
Just recently coming back from a silent meditation shabbaton, up north at Kibbutz Hannaton I realize only how much it impacted me by the stark reality of coming back home. Like many have said before me, sometimes you only realize how much you have changed, until you go back home.
Well for me, home is Jerusalem and Machon Pardes, particularly the Beit Midrash.
As I sit in Hummash class, all of these powerful images of the last couple of days flood my mind. What I would have done the last couple of days was sit on the floor, hands open, resting on my thighs, breathing in and out and letting the thoughts flow and ‘gently but firmly’ returning to my breath. But doing that would have been a little weird, considering I was wearing my black long boots sitting in Rabbi Meir’s hummash class while looking at Rashi. In fact, the only dress code Pardes has is to wear shoes, and for the first time, it felt super constraining, wishing I could feel the grass through my toes. Continue reading
This picture was very Erev Yom Kippur. Naomi and I went to Tel Aviv to do a mikvah in the ocean, and we’re praying before we went into the water. It was an AMAZING experience! I felt so pure going into Yom Kippur!
I am not sure when the last time was I actually did something for the first time. So when I was approached a few days ago to write a blog, I knew instinctively from childhood that I have to try everything once. I wasn’t sure how to approach this, or if anyone would even read it. Once I gave it some thought, I realized people probably just blog to get their thoughts to paper (ooops old school), and I have certainly done that before. Besides, I never do anything half way. Like the natural spring mikvot I sometimes go to after classes, it doesn’t help to go in half way, you immerse yourself fully in a task and you feel refreshed and invigorated. Here we go!
What do I mean by “Rules of the Game”?
I recently had the chance to study and write exams for my Hockey Referee Level Four Theory (Level Five for the semi-pro and pro Leagues and 6 for International Hockey). It is not that I am bragging, I was quite humbled by the experience. If you know anything about ice hockey, you know there are a lot of rules and this seemed like an onerous task.
Of course, I brought forth my vast knowledge from the first three levels of refereeing, but I was unprepared for the volume of new rules. I started my study routines, got myself a study partner, wrote to rules experts looking for patterns and spent countless hours with the text. I realized at some point in my studies that I might be over my head and was ready to submit. Really not do the Referee courses and not interact with the 100 other referees from North America and Europe.
Over the course of the preparation, I had an epiphany. I had been in many of these situations before, previous practical experiences applying the hockey rules. I hadn’t spent enough time in my studies, looking at the interpretations booklet they provided me, only the text itself. I started pouring over the practical applications of the rules and drawing on all my previous experiences. Once I got to the courses, I was in the top third of all categories of rules and contributed a vast amount to the learning experience.
Now you must know the journey is not over, only the courses and examination. As the new season approaches in September, they will begin sending supervisors to watch me in action and evaluate me over time to see how I apply the rules and how I handle difficult situations during challenging games.
So why write about the “Rules of the Game” in this context? Our time at Pardes is very similar to this experience. We pour over text for hours and hours, and then we analyze more text on what the great rabbis and scholars understood from the text. I don’t have to tell anyone about how exciting it is to study Tanach, Talmud and tefillah, in Jerusalem at Pardes, with incredible morim (teachers).
What I really think is important is what I do after Pardes. How I apply these teachings and lessons in the practical day to day Jewish and secular parts of my life, in Toronto. Too bad there won’t be anyone watching me and evaluating me after Pardes, or will there be?
My Pardes experience has been a tribute to my ima, Rivka bat Sarah, of blessed memory, 09/01/94. My soul is bound up with yours until eternity.
The weekend before last was the retreat Shabbaton for Self, Soul, and Text class at Kibbutz Hanaton, our teacher James’ home, in the Galil. The schedules Friday and Saturday were nearly identical, each day going like: 9-9:45: Sit. 9:45-10:30: Walk. 10:30-11:15: Sit. 11:15-12:30: Lunch. 12:30-1:15-Sit. It was brutal, and that’s no joke, since “Sit” didn’t mean “Lay on a couch, go on your computer, and schmooze,” it meant, “Sit upright in the big white tent like the kind we use in Pittsburgh as the Game Day Live Tent at Heinz Field for 45 minutes, focus on your breathing, or, if your nose is too stuffy to make that even remotely relaxing, then on the feeling of your butt in the cushion and try to meditate without thinking of scenes from The Simpsons.” and “Walk” didn’t mean “Go for a stroll on the beautiful grounds of the Kibbutz,” it meant “Slowly pace back-and-forth over the same 10 feet of ground, trying to focus on your steps and breathing without humming the Red Hot Chili Peppers song in your head. The hardest part of this was that we couldn’t hike: Hanaton is a gorgeous place, with birds singing everywhere, that kibbutz smell (read: cow dung) in the air, rolling green hills and farmland, a huge clear sky showing Omnimax sunrises and sunsets twice-daily, and a Druze village in the distance, and the nearest source of water was the reservoir in the distance sealed-off with barbed-wire; all we could do, however, is see everything from a distance. Meals offered no escape either, since this was a “silent” retreat, and by “silent,” they mean “lonely:” there was no talking, touching, looking, or even smiling at your friends from Thursday night until Saturday night. As I said, it was absolutely unforgiving. When we weren’t Sitting or Walking or praying, we were usually either listening to an excellent class by James, meeting with him privately, or singing niggunim with him. Friday afternoon, we all went to the mikveh.
Carrie Bornstein (Year Program ’05-’06) serves as the Acting Executive Director of Mayyim Hayyim, and she recently blogged about celebrating the Mikveh’s 10,000th immersion! Mazal Tov to Mayyim Hayyim! Keep up the great work!
This was originally posted on ‘Life According to Lauren’
There are different reasons why one might choose to “keep kosher.” Here are a few examples:
Ok, enough of my bad jokes.
In all seriousness, I really enjoyed this process, and tried to do it with intention and honor. I think there is something really appealing about adding holiness to the seemingly ordinary things that we do in our every day lives. I do feel differently when I’m preparing my food, even it’s just the reminder to have gratitude for what I’m about to eat and where it comes from. I’m also excited to be able to cook for friends, regardless of the level of kosher that they keep.
While the actual ritual of kashering a kitchen may sound a bit funny or strange, I do believe that there is a lot of value behind it, and I look forward to exploring this as time goes on.
And if you have any questions about kashering your OWN kitchen…. call Zvi.