Posted on July 31, 2018 by Aviva Turner
“But why are we here? And why can’t we be kinder and more tolerant of each other, other Jews, but also non-Jews?” Those were the questions my favorite havruta (study partner) kept asking through our three weeks together. I can’t say I had any answers, but the opportunity to pose these questions and others like them, to discover the answers offered by the sages through the study of our sacred texts and to add our reflections and insights gained through our own life experiences, is the privilege of those of us fortunate enough to participate in the Pardes Summer Program.
Program offerings always include Talmud and Bible study at several levels of Hebrew fluency, but are augmented by classes on philosophy, history, scribal arts, davening skills, the teachings of specific Rabbis from varied streams of Jewish thinking, and more. Not to mention the guest speakers on different social, political, and spiritual aspects of living Jewishly in the 70th year of the reestablishment of a Jewish State after 2000 years of exile. Add in the community lunches, tiyulim (trips around Jerusalem), the opportunity to pray together in various formats or not, and Reb Mike’s fabulous weekday “tisch” (yes, a “tisch” during the week!), and it is an almost indescribable mixture of exciting, serious learning and down right fun all happening in gracious community.
My own “Rebbe” Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, z”l, was asked by his daughter at age twelve: “Abba, if we are already awake, can we wake up more?” That is what the Pardes faculty and staff do for those of us participating. They help us, and we help each other, be more awake. What a way to spend your Summer Vacation!
Dr. Aviva Turner
Pardes Student ’15 and on