These and Those

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

[Alumni Guest Post] Pardes: a new family summer adventure

Posted on August 14, 2013 by Michal Kohane

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From my blog:


There are a lot of things kids can do that drive their parents crazy. We all know it, as parents – and as the kids we all are (even if we opt to forget what we’ve done ourselves!). But then, there are also grand and wonderful things children do that warm a parent‘s heart so much, that your throat swells to a big balloon, and even if you had the words, they wouldn’t come out.

In our family, sometime as spring rolls around, I start with: “Guys, what do you want to do this summer”?

And as my children grow up (six of them, ages almost 16 to 26), they take longer to hmm and homm considering their options. There is work. And a chance to make some money. There is school. And friends. And tons of amazing programs. And lots more parties and other fun to have. And there is mom, with her ‘what do you want to do’ song and dance.

So while I can’t help nagging (trying to do it quietly and in moderation, though not always successful), I also remind myself that it’s time for me to get used to the fact that we probably won’t continue to spend all our summer days together, frolicking in a water park somewhere, driving around squished into a van searching for a bathroom in a rest area, freezing our tooshies off in a campsite huddled around a small fire, attending BBQ’s with long lost re-found friends, or flying overseas together. I realize, I need to grow up too, make my own plans, and let them make theirs.

So I did. I told them that I’m going to use all my vacation days on a dream: Like Tevya, I too want to sit in the Beit Midrash and study. I can’t think of anything better to do with my time then wake up to a shiur in Talmud, followed by another one in Midrash, Chasidut, and other Jewish text sprinkled with davening in between. I know, I know. People asked me, ‘and you do this for fun?!’ but yes, I do.

What I didn’t know was that 2 of my kids were going to sign up to do just that.

I searched and found Pardes summer course and quickly signed up. With great pride and excitement, I sent them the link to see. ‘Can I come too?’ they asked. ‘Well, if you insist’… I responded jokingly, amazed myself at what transpired.

For three weeks this past July, we shared a small Bak’a apartment from which we walked daily to Pardes; Each of us picked the classes that most spoke to him – or her, then we exchanged ideas and insights, discussing commentaries over falafel at lunch. For three weeks we lived Jerusalem. We visited family and friends. We checked out some of the tourists sites. We signed up for all the trips. We walked. We talked. We “pardessed”.

Lessons learned? Maybe it’s that the best thing we can do with someone we love is to share something we love with them. That is good to do no matter what age anyone is. If you can come to Pardes with your parents, or children, of any age, the sweetness of the Torah you’ll learn will multiply endlessly.