These and Those

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

[Student Profile] Samahra Zatzman

Posted on March 1, 2011 by David Bogomolny

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Samahra (Spring ’11) first found the words to describe her passion for ‘bridging communities’ as a York University student upon receiving the annual ‘Partnership and Outreach’ award from UJA and Hillel of Greater Toronto for activism as Hillel ‘Tzedek’ Chair.

After completing her B.A. Honors in theater and B.Ed. in education, Samahra continued to pursue cross-cultural education as the Education and Outreach Coordinator of the Ashkenaz Foundation. She developed the ‘Ashkenaz in The Schools’ program, as well as the ‘Campus Representative’ program, striving to create exciting community education opportunities, even as she began to plan the next leg of her own education: a semester of Torah study in Israel.

While planning her journey, Samahra came with Pardes alumna Deb Cole (’09-’10) to hear Yaffa Epstein teach at ‘The House’ in Toronto. Afterwards, they stood in the chilly evening air, speaking about her yearning for Torah study, and Samahra made mention of her interest in cross-cultural dialogue and education.

“My dream is to ‘bridge communities’ through the arts so when Yaffa told me about the ‘Peace & Conflict Track’, I knew I had to come! It was hard to leave ‘Ashkenaz’, but I wanted to ground my vision in Jewish tradition, and Pardes is davka the place for bridging complicated worldviews!”

Now at Pardes, Samahra’s fascination with Rabbi Daniel Roth’s ‘Peace & Conflict Track’ grows, even as she finds herself being drawn into intense, interdenominational discussions of theology in Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield’s ‘Critical Issues in Jewish Thought’ class. Not one for labels, Samahra is continuously discovering that various faith statements of different Jewish denominations speak to her.

A humanistic Zionist at heart, Samahra has now visited Israel four times on educational and volunteer programs, and she is particularly excited to maintain her commitment to social action as a Pardes volunteer for the Sulha Peace Project – working at the grassroots level to ‘bridge communities’ here in Israel.

“I think my exploration and learning at Pardes will deepen my understanding of Jewish tradition, and empower me to better understand others – I’m always keeping in mind the ‘rodef shalom’ concept – always ‘bridging communities’!”