These and Those

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

Eating at ‘Home’

Posted on December 13, 2011 by Leah Stern

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Hello Pardesians and World,

I am writing to you from a small cafe in Tel Aviv.  I must confess that I was at a loss as to what to talk about in my next blog post. I was going to try to follow my theme of faces in jerusalem of my first blog post, but I realized to try and conform me to a theme would limit the things I wanted to convey about my experience at Pardes. My Pardes experience includes the city of Jerusalem which I so deeply love, but more importantly it includes the community itself here at Pardes, that is to say, the faces at Pardes. I realized this when I confessed to Bogomolny that I had no idea what to write about. His response was almost literally: food! Or more specifically, David Berman’s food. My brain was like, what a great idea! I love food and eating and all the activity that comes along with it.  So why not write about the man whose food helps make Pardes even more of a home for me?

David S. Berman, for those who are not Pardesians, is our beloved chef who supplies us with delicious homemade goodies throughout the week. He bakes muffins and cookies that help sustain us between classes when we need an energy boost in the afternoons when waking up early starts to get to our thinking caps we use in our learning. His sandwiches are delicious and always come in handy when you are strapped for time and havn’t had a chance to go grocery shopping for the week but want something healthy (and delicious) for lunch. Community lunch that he cooks for the whole Pardes community on Tuesdays is an event I look forward to every week. And once a week, he does a soup, sandwich, and dessert special where you can get all 3 items (if you want) for one low price. And every week, I always want something off the menu! I have a bit of a sweet tooth, I must confess, so it is often the dessert I go for but lately I have been gravitating toward the soups, they remind me of the comfort soups that my mom makes at home that I sorely miss here.

Every day at Pardes, I always walk into the kitchen and say hi to Mr. Berman. He always greets me with a cheery face and asks me how I am doing. He always remembers a detail of what I am up to and always asks me about how that part of my life is going. And I’m not the only one who has this type of interaction. Mr. Berman always knows something unique about each and every person he interacts with at Pardes. For example, he knows I love musicals and often has opera or cantorial music playing on the radio, and will educate me about the particular singer he is listening to. And when disaster hit the play I was in, he made sure to tell me every day to hang in there, that everyone was behind me. David Berman is more than just food, he is a pillar holding up Pardes. Without his cheery personality or his savory food, our learning would just not be the same. When we are tired or are having an off day, you can be sure that Mr. Berman will be there to perk you up with a muffin or a encouraging word.

When we think of home, we all think of those childhood foods that you grew up with eating. Though I love Israel, there are just those days where I want a bowl of my mother’s mushroom barley soup with a spoonful of comfort. Without David Berman,  I can say that Pardes would just not be the same; it wouldn’t be home.