These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

Welcome to the blog!

Posted on October 27, 2009 by Naomi Adland

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Since this is one of the first posts on These and Those, I thought I’d take a minute to introduce the blog, and let you all know what we want this blog to be. Pardes is an amazing place to spend time – whether it’s for a few weeks in the summer, a semester, a year, or even two as part of the Pardes Educators Program – and we want you to know what it’s like on a day-to-day basis. At its pshat (simple meaning), this is a platform for several current Pardes students to share their unique experiences with the world outside of Pardes. This is also a way for you as a friend, family member, prospective student or alum to tune in to our lives and learn about what it really means to be a Pardes student.

As for me, my name is Naomi, and I’m a student in the Year Program. This is my first experience living in Israel, and it’s been an amazing two and a half months so far. I came to Pardes from Chicago, where I was participating in AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps. I’ve known about Pardes for a long time – as a student at Brandeis, I had a lot of friends and acquaintances who studied here over the years – and I always knew that I wanted to spend a significant chunk of time living in Israel and studying Jewish texts. When I learned that Pardes was offering free tuition for the students this year, I decided that there was no time like the present, and so here I am!

Living in Israel has been a very interesting experience for me. Since I’ve been here I’ve taken a trip up north to the Galilee, spent a day in Tel Aviv, and had the memorable experience of celebrating Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur in Jerusalem. Each of these things is unique to Israel in a different way, but none of them could happen elsewhere in the world. On the other hand, my roommate Miriam and I have spoken several times about the similarity between life at Pardes and life in America – mainly, that being at Pardes is sort of like being at an American Embassy, in that you’re on American soil no matter where in the world you actually are.

Despite this sense of being in America, there are things about life in Jerusalem that are definitely unique. I never think to mention them when I’m on the phone or chatting on Skype with friends from home, so I’ve started keeping a bit of a list. Here are a few of the things I’ve been noticing:

  1. Stam, davka, and mamash – the words stam, davka, and mamash are words that I have only heard used in Israel, and now that I’m here, I hear them all of the time. Each one is incredibly versatile, and none of the three translate particularly well into English, but I find myself using them in sentences nonetheless. I foresee a world in which I return to the United States and keep using these words and no one will know what I’m talking about.
  2. Laundry – in this country, laundry is a bit of a guessing game. First of all, most of the detergents and fabric softeners and bleaches come with Hebrew and Russian labels, which are occasionally helpful but often are a bit of a mystery. The washing machine in my apartment has slots for three different types of soap, but I only own fabric softener and detergent, so I’m not really sure what goes in the third… Most people hang their clothes out to dry, which is all well and good if you have a mirpeset (balcony) or a good laundry hanging spot. My apartment, on the other hand, has the dubious honor of hosting a dryer. This dryer, however, isn’t connected to the outside in any way, shape, or form, so every time you dry a load of clothing, you have to empty out a large condensation container before putting in another load. The whole experience is always a little weird from start to finish.
  3. Candle lighting – if you ask the majority of Jews around the world, they’ll tell you that Shabbat begins when you light your Sabbath candles on Friday evening. In most places, the time for lighting those candles is 18 minutes before sunset (the halacha behind this is much more complicated [of course] but we’ll leave it at this for now). In Jerusalem, however, the time for candle lighting is actually 40 minutes before sunset. Why? To set us apart from the rest of the world. Because we’re just that awesome.

I’m sure this list will continue to grow as my year here continues! What would you add?