These and Those

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

So Much Texting

Posted on September 3, 2013 by Stefanie Groner

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From my blog last week:

901079_2412197989053_939910674_oRosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. Now, this Jewish New Year, 5774, begins this Wednesday! Party! Last night, I went to my school’s open class and service on Selichot, the art of repentance. Jews tend to harp on this theme as we finish up one year and begin to focus on how we hope to enrich ourselves for an even better next year. Pardes’ study hall was filled with more than 50 people all learning from the same teacher and dissecting the same text. Our ancient scene was a story of temptation, adultery, confession and tragedy. A real Shakespeare meets One Life to Live kind of tale. In pairs and small groups, we examined the very short story, word by word, cracking down and squeezing out the nuances from each pronoun said and linebreak empty.

Through a basic literary analysis framework a la tenth grade English, I got so invested in trying to understand the protagonist’s temptations, the identities he and his wife assumed, the confessions they made to each other, and how it all ends so abruptly. The whole story was about 15 lines and I probably could’ve discussed Rav Hiyya and his wife for hours on end. I geeked out completely.

I found I enjoy more the hard text study than the mushy gushy guitar and storytelling session that followed, but I totally appreciate that everyone connects in his or her own way. My cherry-red sunburn also started to really heat up at that hour, but I tried to focus on the exuberant joy of a tiny, tanned and wrinkled woman in her eighties, with giant bug glasses and a sequined beret. She was clapping and bopping and having the time of her life. If I’m going to confess, I wish myself as much happiness as she was feeling last night.

Today included a first day of classes where I was able to geek out over the book of Jonah, the history of Jewish commentary, and the origins of the noises a shofar makes. Mom, I took notes! That’s huge! I’m suffering through every biblical Hebrew word I don’t know but relishing in the joy of each syllabic triumph so much more. The hardships and the sweetness reflect what life is like here. Making aliyah (moving here forever) makes sense to me now.

Don’t worry, I still have full intention of returning to America and geeking out over consulting frameworks and informational technology strategies, but even the tomatoes are much stronger and sweeter in Israel than America. Speaking of tomatoes, I went to a budget grocery store and bought all the things I need to make kindergarten lunches: apples, granola bars, PB&J and chocolate milk. Who says in my last month of pre-adulthood I can’t regress my diet to age 5?

And to anyone who thinks school isn’t fun, they haven’t seen me at Pardes.