These and Those

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

[Student Profile] Tamar Roth

Posted on January 13, 2013 by David Bogomolny

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tamarTamar (Fall ’12) had only planned to remain at Pardes for the Elul Program, but ended up staying for the entire Fall semester – much to her own surprise!

Having grown up in the Golders Green Synagogue community, Tamar became a leader of her local Bnei Akiva youth group, taking on the role of madricha at the age of 15. Her father, Benedict Roth, was himself a Pardes student in the ’89-’90 Year Program and returned to Pardes again for the 2012 Summer Program – so he’s quite proud of his daughter for coming to learn at Pardes after completing high school!

The young woman has been very pleased to note that her Jewish community in London has gradually been creating more opportunities for women to participate in communal ritual, as women’s megilla readings are now fairly common, and they are given a Torah scroll at shul to dance with on Simchat Torah. By the time Tamar herself leined Torah at home for her bat mitzvah during Shabbat minchah, this already seemed less unusual to her friends and neighbors than had her sister’s Torah leining several years prior.

At the age of 16, Tamar joined a Masorti youth group on a month-long trip to Israel instead of traveling with her Bnei Akiva group. Tamar found the Masorti participants very open to discussing challenging issues, such as Israeli politics and the existence of God; but had to be particularly cautious about halakhic issues on the trip such as fasting on Tisha B’Av and waiting between eating meat and dairy.

All in all, Tamar still recalls the Masorti group’s non-judgmental attitude very fondly; and when she became the rosh (head) of her Bnei Akiva chapter at seventeen, her priorities were informed by this spirit of open-mindedness. Today, despite her occasional frustrations with certain aspects of the group, Tamar is still committed to shaping Bnei Akiva, and hopes to work as madricha this coming summer before she begins her university studies.

Toward the end of high school, Tamar decided that rather than attending a traditional seminary in Israel the following year, she would do something a bit less conventional. Meeting Shmuel and Judy Klitsner during their visits to London had inspired her to apply to the Pardes Elul Program, as she was moved by their brilliance and passion for Judaism, and their groundedness in modern society. After all, she’d always wanted to study Talmud!

Experiencing Jerusalem with Pardes brought Tamar a sense of calm that she hadn’t expected. When Shabbat ended at the first community Shabbaton of the year, Tamar was surprised to find that she felt sad at its passing – her madrichim used to tell her that they were sad whenever Shabbat would come to an end, and for the first time, at the Young Judaea Youth Hostel with her Pardes friends and community, she understood.

Over the course of the Fall semester, Tamar greatly enjoyed her Gemara courses with Meesh and Yaffa, and enjoyed sharing what she learned with her family back in London. Now, she is off to study Arabic full-time through Givat Haviva, as she continues her gap year adventure. And as much as she’s looking forward to a acquiring a new language, Tamar knows that the inspiration and friends she found at Pardes will always stay with her… hopefully she’ll come back to visit us for Shabbat in the Spring!