These and Those

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

Dear incoming Pardes students

Posted on July 11, 2014 by Elana Shilling

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elashilDear incoming Pardes students nervously biting your fingernails while watching rockets fly on their TV screens,

I won’t lie. Israel is at war. Rockets are terrorizing the country and ground troops are waiting for the okay to enter Gaza. It’s a tense time for Israel.

That being said, this morning I woke up to my alarm clock and casually walked to Pardes. Then I struggled to understand Rashi in the Beit Midrash, and am now thinking about whether or not I feel like pizza for lunch, or falafel…

In other words… here in Jerusalem, life continues. It just does. And not for the reasons you might think.

You may think that life continues on as normal because Israelis are uniquely tough and are used to the conflict, or perhaps because of some Zionist mentality they posses that allows them to super SUPER believe in the cause and refuse to submit to terror. And that may be true in some cases, but there is a second truth.

Jerusalemites keep telling you they feel safe, because Jerusalem really and truly IS quite safe. …Like Hogwarts.

Yes, Hogwarts. Exactly like Hogwarts, the centre of all conflict yet the safest place to be. But instead of having Dumbledore to keep the city safe, Jerusalem has a large population of Palestinian people and the Dome of the Rock, the siren and security system and the Iron Dome.

First and foremost, Hamas is considerably reluctant to strike Jerusalem in fear of killing its own people or hurting the Dome of the Rock. Could you imagine the media attention they would get if that happened?

Secondly, Jerusalem has a security system in place. In the event of an attack, a siren will sound and Jerusalemites are given 90 seconds to find a safe place. Ninety seconds is a lot of time and most buildings, including Pardes, have a shelter in the building itself. If there is no official shelter, the middle of the building or a stairwell can be used. For the most part, it’s just as safe.

If worse comes to worst, and you are outside while a siren sounds, you can always hide behind a wall. Unlike other cities, Jerusalem is filled with Jerusalem stone, highly durable and thick. Jerusalem stone has withstood the test of time. It’s pretty darn strong.

Finally, if the IDF believes that Jerusalem is in danger, the IDF will mobilize the Iron Dome to protect the city. The Iron Dome is a fantastic piece of Israeli technology that has saved densely populated areas from being struck by rockets.

Fact: Since the beginning of this conflict, not a single Israeli has been killed or gravely injured.
Second fact: Unlike in some of the other cities in the country, in the past three days only one siren has sounded in Jerusalem.

You don’t know me, but trust me when I say that I am a very nervous and anxious person. Yet, I have not run away from this conflict and will be joining you next year at Pardes.

Not because I’m tough. Not because I’m so super Zionistic. Not for any other reason than that I feel safe. And I feel safe because of the number of safety measures in place in this city. Jerusalem is protected.

And most importantly, to miss out on Pardes would be a mistake. A big HUGE mistake. You have no idea how wonderful, open, academically challenging and life changing this institution is. Please, do NOT let the events of the past week deter you from learning here at Pardes, in Jerusalem, in Israel.

I’ll see you in the Beit Midrash.


Elana Shilling