These and Those

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

[PEP Graduation ’13] And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go

Posted on June 12, 2013 by Hannah Perlis

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Here's my Dvar from last week's PEP Graduation!

rwRalph Wiggum from The Simpsons once said, “When I grow up I wanna be a Principal or a Caterpillar.” When I was younger I thought I wanted to be a supermarket cashier because you get to stand near the candy all day. I learned a lot about myself by attending and coming to Pardes, including how I really wanted to be a teacher when I was younger, not a supermarket cashier. 2 years ago, I was deciding whether to stay in NY and pursue a Masters in ESL, or to pursue a Master’s in Jewish Education in Israel with Pardes. I had no idea how inspiring and wonderful my decision to come to Pardes would turn out to be. Where else do you receive individual emails from your teachers when you’re sick one day? And, what other learning institutions have teachers who invite you to their homes, or give life-coaching lessons on the fly when they notice you might be needing some advice. I’m going to miss counting people before entering the elevator to make sure we don’t exceed the 6-person limit, and running to get bourekasim from the bakery next door during breaks. And I’m also going to miss subliminally being brainwashed to buy a Mazda, because every day I pass the huge Mazda windows on my way to the small hidden door to Pardes.

960212_10151636412753826_1883711173_nBut, most of all I will miss the amazing faculty and mentorship I have gained here. I’ve had amazing mentor teachers in the United States, mentors here in Jerusalem like Susan Yammer, and much support from teachers here like Rabbi Michael Hattin, Neima Novetsky, Aviva Golbert, Rabbi Zvi Grumet, Rabbi Zvi Hirschfield, Eric Golombek, and Rav Hayim Leiter, as well as Dr. Judy Markose, and Gail Kirschner. I knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I was doubting whether it was really me that could achieve that feat.

משנה תורה, ספר מדע, פרק ה, הלכה יג
יג] הַתַּלְמִידִים מוֹסִיפִין חָכְמַת הָרָב, וּמַרְחִיבִין לִבּוֹ. אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים, הַרְבֵּה חָכְמָה לָמַדְתִּי מֵחֲבֵרַי יָתֵר מֵרִבּוֹתַי, וּמִתַּלְמִידַי יָתֵר מִכֻּלָּם

Students increase their teacher’s wisdom and broaden their horizons. Our Sages declared: “I learned much wisdom from my teachers and even more from my colleagues. However, from my students [I learned] most of all.”

One of the reasons I am a Judaic studies teacher is because I have seen how much impact students have on their teachers here at Pardes, but, I have also gained so much wisdom from my own students when teaching them Humash, Hagim, and Chesed. Today, I am confident that teaching Judaics is what I want to do and what I am capable of doing. I find it so rewarding to have my students broaden my horizons and look forward to that next chapter of my life.

My mom is another reason that I am a Judaic studies teacher, and she is the one I want to thank next, because she pushed me to follow my dreams and come to Israel. The rest of my family has also been very supportive of me, and I am very grateful for them. My best friends here, amazing roommates and colleagues have served as a sounding board for ideas and thought, and we’ve shared many laughs together. I know we will always have each other as a professional and personal network.

oWhen first meeting this wonderful group of colleagues last year, I brought this book with me (Oh, the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss – in Hebrew). The first day of school, we had a show and tell session to meet the other people in our cohort. I used it before the start of my 2 year journey here in Israel, and now I refer back to it before my next journey of teaching Judaic studies next year.

These are my words of advice to myself as well as my colleagues (During the commencement, I read the text below from the Hebrew version of the book):
“Oh, the places you’ll go!”
It roughly translates in English to…

Good Luck!
Today has arrived.
You’re off to Great Places!
So goodbye!
With feet in your shoes 
and brains in your head,
You’ll find your way,
Don’t be afraid.
You are able and you know,
You’re ready and called upon.
And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.

Thank you!