Posted on July 15, 2019 by Carole Daman
This blog piece was written by Carole Daman (Year ’73-’74, Spirituality Retreat ’13, ’14, ’15, ’17, ’18, WLS ’08, ’09, ELS ’12, ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16 ’17, ’18, ’19)
Every year for the past eight years coming to Jerusalem to learn at the summer Pardes Executive Learning Seminar has been a major highlight and focus of my entire year. Each year I grow in my knowledge and understanding of the texts that are so central to my religious life. I also have the privilege of being part of a diverse community of students who are serious and enthusiastic about their learning, many of whom like I come back year after year.
One of the joys of Pardes is that it really does create a community in an incredibly short time. The emphasis on chavrutah, exploring the texts in pairs or triples, and the interactive approach of the brilliant and talented teachers ensures that we not only get many interesting and new perspectives but also get to know and feel connected to our fellow students.
The theme this year epitomized what Pardes is all about. It was “Shaping Relationships in a Lonely World.” Through Biblical, Talmudic and other texts, we explored the complexities of establishing and being in relationship with ourselves, with our families, with our neighbors whoever they may be and with God. Many of the classes inspired me on a personal level, but there were two that particularly reinforced my belief that the mission of Pardes and the way it carries it out in both its short-term and long-term programs is so important.
The first class was entitled “I’m OK, You’re OK.” Through analyzing a variety of Jewish texts, we explored the benefits and limits of that principle and how the sages approached the issue of letting others know when we believe their behavior is harmful or highly inappropriate.
The second class, entitled “Living Our Truths and Maintaining A Unified Community,” focused on the tension between striving for absolute truth and justice while at the same time attempting to achieve peace and recognizing the need for compassion. The final texts we examined emphasized that though the challenge is great, we as individuals have a responsibility not to turn away from others into our own private worlds. Learning at Pardes ELS each year, I feel so privileged to be part of an institution that embodies and encourages the fulfillment of such high ideals.
Join a future Pardes Seminar in Jerusalem. Details and registration at: pardes.org.il/seminar