These and Those

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

Pardes Summer 2019 Reflection

Posted on August 1, 2019 by Rabbi Irv Elson

This blog piece was written by Rabbi Irv Elson, alumnus of the Pardes 2018 and 2019 Summer Programs.

Many years ago, (did I say MANY”?) when I first arrived in New York to attend college, I was faced with the task of opening a bank account at a local bank. The choices were many. In those days, Chase Manhattan Bank had just begun a new advertising campaign; “You have a friend at Chase” proclaimed posters all over the city….tempting…I needed a friend in the city. However, not to be outdone, Bank Leumi also inaugurated a new advertising campaign that summer. You might have a friend at Chase, but “You have mishpackha at Bank Leumi” their campaign stated! The choice was clear, as much as I wanted a new friend, I needed mishpackha.

I was reminded of this little anecdote as I arrived for my second summer at Pardes. Walking in to Pardes was like returning home; a place filled with friendly faces, amazing staff, and a feeling of home, a spiritual home. Pardes is not just an invigorating Beit Midrash, which it is, and not just a place of profound learning, but for me Pardes is place of spiritual renewal. It’s a place where for a few weeks during the year, I am surrounded by dedicated professors, rabbeim, and staff who along with amazing fellow student teach me, guide me, and expose me to some of the most proufound Torah learning in Israel. To quote Heschel, Pardes creates for me an “Island in time” from my busy schedule where I can focus on thinking deep thoughts and hearing great ideas from our tradition. There are many places around Israel where I can get a learning experience. I have many friends in those places, but at Pardes, I have mishpackha.

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