These and Those

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

[Alumni Guest Post] Chalk and Rivers

Posted on August 16, 2013 by Eli Steier

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426604_10100436318176834_2075557981_nStudying at Pardes was amazing, and I gained much. One of the things I learned from my experiences at Pardes is how to be more comfortable with not knowing the answer, to not be so worried about getting life wrong. Let me explain, and lay my position on the table. I do believe there is truth, and it is a unity, and that there is a right and wrong independent of human opinion which is grounded in the Holy One Blessed Be He.

That being said, I was under the misconception that growth was not as good as impossible perfectionism.  Well, if that isn’t obscure enough,  let me put it this way: I moved from an either/ or approach to a both/ and approach in a way that did not negate the either/ or, just works paradoxically along side it. Like, imagine that time is a river. In one moment of the river, I step in, the water hits my feet, and in that moment, an either or decision is observed and made, but that does not mean that the river stopped.

And while navigating the choppy waters of my spiritual journey, I found a raft to join other travelers. And we are all just traveling, or, as I like to think, we are all just kids in the park. I just hope we don’t forget that.

Writing of kids in the park,  I want to end this reflection with a word about drawing chalk on the ground. I stayed at Beit Ben Yehuda in the Talpiot neighborhood. The hosts were very nice, and even allowed me to draw with colored chalk on the ground there for my Chalk program I organized which no one showed up to, but that is not my point (see pictures attached). It is my firm conviction that one way to judge the health of a society is if its children are allowed to draw in chalk on the ground. Seeing chalk on the ground is one of the most beautiful things. There were playgrounds, after playgrounds, with happy smiling kids, that wrote with chalk on the ground, in Hebrew, sometimes in English, and, hopefully, sometimes in Arabic. Not only was there at least one kid who knew how to draw an elephant, but also, a heart.

These first two are from the one man chalk program at Beit Ben Yehuda.

From the one man chalk program at Beit Ben Yehuda.

From the one man chalk program at Beit Ben Yehuda.

The following are from places in Jerusalem.

Native Elephant

More Native Chalk DrawingsIsraeli Kids Chalk It Up