These and Those

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

[Alumni Post] Just Send Me Back To Pardes

Posted on September 9, 2012 by The Director of Digital Media

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by Andrew Lustig, Year Program 5772

Just send me back to Pardes. Please, please, please. I promise I’ll learn at Night Sedar every week. And I won’t take a lot of bathroom breaks. And I wont distract my friends. And I wont use conversations with Robby and Donna and Joanne as clever ways to get out the Beit Midrash. And I promise I’ll put a Shekel in the jar every time I get a cup of tea. And I wont keep tallies of how much I owe in my head. And I’ll wash my cup. And I won’t keep the water running because God knows Israel needs its water. I promise I promise. I promise I’ll davin Mincha every afternoon. Even on community lunch days when I’d rather be staking out a good seat… or a good block of seats. And even if I do cordon off an entire table for my friends I promise I won’t move all the hummus and all the pita there. And even if I do I promise I’ll wait until Egal is done before I eat. And while I wait, I promise I wont loudly blame Egal for taking to long. And even if I do I promise that when they do finish I won’t loudly yell “Oh, Egal’s done. Now we can eat!” I promise I will show up on time every day. And by on time I don’t mean on time for class. I mean on time for Shachrit. And I when I am late I wont pretend it was because I had to make a minyon at the imaginary synagogue on my block. And when I am late I won’t take any cereal. Not even a little bit. And I won’t even do that thing where I ask someone who’s done eating to take more so that I can eat from their bowl. I promise. I promise. Please just let me come back to Pardes. If you do I promise to RSVP for things. And on time too. And not just for the free pizza. But I also promise that if you have more pizza ill RSVP for more things. Ugh. If I could just come back to Pardes…
I’d buy a box of Bourekas every morning and immediately put them on the Hefkr table. I’d bring my own mug and just leave it there. And never claim it as mine. So that every day someone who didn’t have time to get coffee could have a nice big mug and they’d get their Shekel worth. If I could just come back to Pardes I would let all the first years know exactly how to finagle Arnona and exactly how to get a visa and exactly how to find an apartment so that Donna and Joanne didn’t have to. And I would give money to Robby every day. Literally piles and piles of money. I’d just hand him stacks every time I saw him. Like seriously. I’d buy a funnel and just rain Shekles on him. Until he was buried in Shekles. Like I’d just wind up and whip handfuls of 10NIS pieces at his door every time I passed. And every now and again I’d attach a note to one of the bills that said, “Please, please, please let me come back to Pardes. Where everybody gives so, so much. And where I’ve been treated so, so kindly and fairly. Please, please, please let me come back to the place where Judaism came alive to me. Where I figured out that being Jewish and being progressive aren’t mutually exclusive. Where I realized that I don’t have to choose between the spiritual practice that I so strongly desire and the tradition that I feel so comfortable with. That I don’t have to go to India to be mindful. Or San Francisco to do social justice work. That I can take ownership over Judaism. And even though I’m still not exactly sure what Pardes is an acronym for I am sure that it’s a really smart concept that made sense to me when someone explained it to me and that it’s the name of one of the levels of the parking garage at Ben Gurion airport and that when I got off the plane at Ben Gurion for the first time and saw the word Pardes in my face I knew that I was in the right place… so please, please, please… let me come back. To Pardes