Posted on March 25, 2015 by Maya Zinkow
At our first Turkey Team meeting, Levi charged us with the magnitude of our trip, pumping us up for what he ensured would be a meaningful, fulfilling, and, yes, exhausting trip. Weeks later, we have arrived — our bags full of lesson plans, song sheets, divrei Torah, and even some Pesach goodies for the Turkish Jewish community.After a short plane ride, the trip began in true Pardes fashion. As the city of Istanbul whizzed by our van in a whir of bright-colored buildings, mosques, and cloudy mountain views, we engaged one of our young hosts, Gabi, in a conversation about what it is, exactly, we do at Pardes. Gabi was eager to ask, and we were, as always, happy to answer. What kinds of programs are offered at Pardes? Why did each of you choose to take a year of study? What are the benefits of men and women learning Torah together?Though we hadn’t yet stepped out of the van and into the beautiful city, hadn’t yet toured the golden, shining rooms of the Dolmabahçe Palace or experienced the teeming streets that surround Taksim Square, it was clear from the moment we met Gabi that the true mission of our trip had begun.At the end of the long day, we sat around the dinner table and reviewed the agenda for tomorrow, which includes programs with the day school’s 4th, 5th, and 10th graders, discussing with each other our goals for the students. Already, Gabi had become a part of our conversation, sharpening our lesson plans with new ideas and thoughtful suggestions. How wonderful to feel like we have a new member of our team already after just one day. I can only imagine what we can do with a week, and I look forward to seeing it through together.