These and Those

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

[Alumni Guest Post] Reminder of Home

Posted on February 14, 2013 by The Director of Digital Media

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Jessie Gindea (PEP '10-'12) reflects upon
the first Pardes Educators Conference in Baltimore

There have been moments throughout my first year teaching amidst the messy lockers, lost homework, and lunch boxes strewn around the hallways, when my experience at Pardes seems like a hundred years ago. I love my job as the Coordinator of Jewish Life and Jewish Life teacher for the entire middle school at Solomon Schechter Bergen County, but there are days that I yearn for our cozy Beit Midrash on Pier Koenig, the sounds of serious (and sometimes not so serious) learning permeating the Jerusalem air. I deeply miss my brilliant teachers, the time to study Torah, my friends and my cohort. I miss the theoretical discussion about classroom management traded for real students with real behavioral issues. And yet, while I miss having Friday to prepare for Shabbat, I also appreciate real American Sundays more intensely than I imagined was possible. I miss shopping at the shuk, but there is also a certain comfort in the standards of cleanliness in an American grocery stores. New Jersey is great, but I miss being able to walk to the Old City when I needed a little more spirituality in my day. Basically, while real life is great, my heart is still, and always will be, in the east.

With that being said, I have had an incredible year experimenting with my classes to create success in my classroom. Most days, I love what I do and I am proud to have begun the process of calling myself a Jewish educator. One of the most therapeutic parts of dealing with all elements of my job is knowing that I can pick up my phone and call anyone in my cohort to vent, to cry, to discuss, collaborate, and to share success stories. This amazing support system has been an integral part of my success this year, and I do not take for granted how lucky I am to be a part of this amazing community.


This past week I have the pleasure of participating in the first year Pardes conference in Baltimore. It was the first time that most of our cohort has been together since June, and it was fantastic. Not only was it amazing to laugh and joke and catch up, but it was also amazing to be surrounded by master educators who listened and gave feedback, who understood our struggles and gave suggestions of how to make things better. At one point, I looked around and the stress of lesson planning, the difficult students, real life responsibilities, faded for just a moment. I felt that same passion in the air and for one second, transported myself back into the room on top of a Mazda dealership, a room satiated with Torah and love of Judaism and for that one second, I was home.