These and Those

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

2011-2012 Pardes Fellows (2 of 3)

Posted on September 11, 2011 by The Director of Digital Media

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Let’s meet some more of this year’s Pardes Fellows! 


David was born in Jerusalem, but he grew up in New Jersey, and he lived in Washington, DC for several years before coming to study at Pardes in 2009. He completed his undergraduate education at CWRU in biomedical engineering, worked for two years as an AmeriCorps volunteer, received his masters degree in public policy at Rutgers University, and worked for several years at the U.S. Department of Energy before uprooting himself, and moving back to Israel. 

“The freedom of choice that Pardes offers its students is incredibly empowering. As a student here, I own all of my decisions – I’m not making choices because they’re expected of me. I’m davening, keeping kosher, and living in Israel because I am driven to do so.” 

Last year, David was also in the Pardes Fellows Program, and he worked to get the student body involved with P.R. efforts, and managed the student blog, which he will continue to do this year. Beyond this, David hopes to continue his Torah studies, focusing this year on Talmud and Halakha, and he hopes to enjoy his first year of marriage to his wonderful wife Margarita (they were married on August 30). 

Sharon Graetz

Sharon Graetz just finished her first year of rabbinical school at the Hebrew Union College: Jewish Institute of Religion, and the year before that she enjoyed a year of full-time study at Pardes. Previous to her Torah studies in Israel, Sharon graduated from UC Davis in 2008 with a degree in history, and began to consider the possibility of becoming a rabbi for the Reform Movement.

Sharon feels that from our teachers at Pardes to our fellow students, everyone treats you like family.  She also loves learning about her tradition through intensive text study, and she hopes to delve deeper into the texts by combining what she learned last year at HUC with Pardes’ traditional text study.  Making new friends at Pardes would also be lovely 🙂

This will be Sharon’s third and final (for now) year in Israel.  Jerusalem truly feels like her home, and she is so excited at the opportunity to be back at Pardes as a Fellow this year!

Benjamin Heligman

Ben Heligman is originally from New Rochelle, NY, and before coming to Pardes last year, he worked for two years as an auditor at a public accounting firm in NYC after graduating from SUNY Binghamton with a B.S. in accounting.

The depth of the learning at Pardes inspires Ben. Every discussion, every pasuk, is multifaceted and we take the time and care at Pardes to challenge and discuss all of them. At Pardes, we take active listening very seriously and Ben has stretched himself to new, important places as a result.

This year, Ben hopes to provide more spaces for students at Pardes to interact with the glorious city that we live in through mifgashim and Shabbatonim with Israelis, organizing Israel cultural trips, and facilitating Hebrew-only activities. He also hopes to continue to develop his text skills, and balance his academic growth with work on personal growth and development.

“My advice to incoming students is to set goals for yourself, and remember they are different than others, learn what you find you love, work hard but don’t overwhelm, get a good nights sleep and make yourself available to people.”