These and Those

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

Jerusalem Diaries #8….Study, study, and more study!

Posted on September 7, 2014 by Ariella Siegel

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From my blog:

Ariella Siegel
September already! Time flies when you’re being Jewy, I suppose.

What a whirlwind! And I’m exhausted! Last we left off, it was orientation and more orientation and lots more orientation and then shabbat. The contrast between doing, doing, doing and then not doing at all (except actually doing, because Shabbos is a lot of work) is really interesting.

Classes started on Sunday and it’s been pretty non-stop. Our schedule ends up being the following: 8:30-11:45 morning class, then 12:00-1:00 another class. At 1:00, we gather in the beit midrash (study room)to blow the shofar and say a prayer (only for the month of elul) .

We then have lunch from 1ish to 2:30, and then class from 2:30-5. It’s a really full day. Sunday and Tuesday, I stayed until 6:45 for a chasidut class (which was great, but I decided for my sanity, not to take). Monday we are required to go to night seder, which is a time to review work and learn in groups in the beit midrash, which goes from 6:15-8:15pm.

Monday morning was also our first creative/renewal morning shacharit service, which means on Monday I was at school from 7:20 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, I went to the mall across the street after school to get a few things and then went to a meditation class at Pardes until 8;30. It was totally wonderful and much needed. Thursday, we had morning classes and then in the afternoon, we went on a tiyul to the old city, which was nice, but very hot and sticky and uncomfortable.

I can honestly say, this week has been one of the most challenging I’ve had in a really long time. I was challenged physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So it was intense! I’m not used to learning so much, for so long, and in ways that I’ve never learned before. I struggled with finding meaning in the texts, and why we bother to learn it. I felt a lot of physical pain from sitting in a chair for 7+ hours and lugging a backpack around. I felt emotionally drained, and scared and unsure and weird and happy and expansive and constricted and anxious and excited and drained. I really ran the gamut of emotions this week.

I knew, coming to Pardes, that I was going to be uncomfortable. That’s part of the reason why I came here. I believe discomfort, for your higher good, helps you to grow, tap into aspects of yourself that you aren’t aware of, gives you a different level of consciousness. But I’m not sure I expected it to be this difficult. Things are getting better, of sure. I’m learning how to navigate all of this and balance and process, and I’ve spoken to classmates and teachers about my concerns . I’m seeing this as a good thing, because this intense level of discomfort, I believe, will bring me back to myself, will bring me growth in ways I could never imagine, will help develop me into a better person, all of which were my goals for this year.

And there’s the other side, too…this wonderful group of people who are also into meditation, and creative expression, and singing and chanting and expressing their Judaism in ways that are similar to mine. That’s something I’m really looking forward to tapping into. Not only am I on the planning committee for the service, I’m going to lead one next week!

Friday night, we also went to Nava Tehila for kabbalat shabbat. It was one of the most amazing services I have ever gone to. The music was incredible, the spirit was so good. I started off being in my head and judging the experience like last time, but then I stood up and closed my eyes and just started singing and dancing and feeling the music and it was so beautiful. Afterwards, I went to introduce myself (again) to the rabbi and tell her I wanted to teach with her. She said if I could get a group of people together, she would come teach us, so I am working on that!