These and Those

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

A Rabbi, a doctor, a biologist, 12 teenagers and a director of spice trade company went together to a dining hall… (Pardes in Turkey 2018)

Posted on March 23, 2018 by Maxim Delchev

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A Rabbi, a medical doctor, a biologist, 12 teenagers and a director of spice trade corporation went together to a dining hall….

And that is not the beginning of a very strange joke. But it was exactly what happened to us in our second day in the Pardes trip to Turkey. While we spent most of our day teaching at school, for which we will share our best stories tomorrow, tonight we had the opportunity to learn the stories of the people living in OrYom Old Age Home – the only Jewish old age home in Istanbul.

We were there last month on our previous trip. But this time was very different. The teen leaders of the Aleph Jewish Young movement joined us and served as our translators, helping us meet residents and learn more about them and the city they had spent their lives in.

We quickly realized that we learned a lot not only from the people living in OrYom, but also from our young translators. Sitting together with Ari (born and raised in Istanbul) we learned that he and Morris, our young friend, studied in the same Jewish school. The only difference was that Ari was there half a century earlier. We learned that Ari, who used to be a director of a spice exporting company loved to travel, visiting Budapest (he spent the New Years Eve in 1986 in Hilton Hotel there) and even Honolulu (because as he said – the beach there is the best in the world). He also told us about the Jewish life in Istanbul in the 60s, and his wedding (he was married by the chief Rabbi himself)…

For me to get to know and get to sing with 2 generations of the Turkish Jewish community made me feel right at home. It made me want to be like Honi in that famous Talmudic story, to sleep for 70 years and to wake up with the Pardes group visiting Istanbul in 2088, and meet grown up kids and the new kids, listening to their stories. I would not be disappointed like Honi. I am quite certain I would see the same or even a better picture.

Unfortunately we cannot allow ourselves to sleep 70 years, because tomorrow we are going to teach again in the school and to celebrate Shabbat.

Until then.

P.S. See what our first day looked like here. And see more photos here