These and Those

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

[Alumni Guest Post] The Intersession Bible

Posted on February 8, 2014 by Nina Gordon-Kirsch

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l0nghairsuns3tRUBYBYEOn Sunday morning, I arrive at Pardes to empty hallways and a quiet Beit Midrash. No hassles or traffic jams, I find my locker and take my class materials into Room 5, or rather, the space that has been my womb for sometime now. Fall semester ended just three days prior, and I’m not yet ready to be without. I feel comfortable here.

I take out my notebooks, folders, and course readers, containing four months worth of scribbled words that I will now transform into answers. Four months worth of learning and in the next few days that are called Intersession, I am on a mission to uncover the tangible lessons with which I will be walking away from this Mazda imprinted building.

I pour my papers out onto the table, the colored pens beckon my name, and a new, blank notebook is waiting for me to impart knowledge onto him. I am about to create my own Bible…my Bible of teachings and realizations and goals and practices that I have not-always-so-easily accepted into my life this semester.

In front of me are the materials from class number one. I turn each page and copy down the phrases that stuck with me, the questions that challenged me, and the practices that helped me get through it all. I bullet point my uncertainties and I star my newfound outlooks on life. This extraction process takes much longer than I had imagined and I cover much less ground in one day than had planned.

Returning on Monday, I say hello to Arlene and let her know I’ll be in my spot. Once again, I flip through the filled pages of notes and transfer the sacred words I uncover into my Bible. I relive the hardest moments – the ones in which I extend doubt towards the Truths I was raised on, – and I smile at the sentences that show growth and understanding. Each class has my mind shooting stars into a universe that I am creating. I am rewriting the constellations of the night sky, adding new myths into my Bible.

photo (1)From Halakha I reflect on what it means to humble one’s self. In Hassidut, I learn from the Besht about relationships, as he gives me guidance on how to approach my community, my superiors, my followers, and myself. The hidden “bet” inside of each “peh” that I scribe reminds me of the power of creation that can come from the words of my mouth. The contents of Room C have shown me that with the suffering of each breath in I can breathe out healing to my soul. Lessons of mindfulness and acceptance bring me inner peace – a state of being that is the best running definition of happiness I have found. And Moses, ohhhh Moses. Among other things, I have learned from you to be ready. Hineini. Hineini, I am here, and I am willing to take on the unknown. I am ready for my next chapter.

I no longer walk the hallways of 29 Pierre Koenig, but with my self-proclaimed Bible in hand I know that my time with Pardes will never end.

(Deep, deep gratitude to everyone at Pardes, without whom my journey would be lacking. – Nina)