These and Those

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

Tag Archives: language

Why I learn Talmud

Posted on May 19, 2011 by The Director of Digital Media

A Testimonial by Avigail Hurvitz-Prinz About a month ago my Talmud class did an exercise where we shared our reasons for studying Gemora. Everyone had their own reasons, and my list came up to a total of 21 reasons as wide ranging as “intellectual challenge” and “to have a sense of the Rabbinic world” or Continue Reading »

[Take 5] Helena Fantl: Au Revoir!

Posted on April 27, 2011 by Joel D.

Timed

Posted on April 17, 2011 by Shibley

Some contemporary halakhic debates about prayer are often couched in language of obligation and time-caused mitzvot. Usually we see such language when discussing the role of women inside the halakhic framework. Wrapped into the discussion of time are “halakhic hours” by which we measure the day, which becomes especially critical when discussion t’fillah. Another language Continue Reading »

Reflections on riding the bus in Jerusalem

Posted on March 25, 2011 by David Bogomolny

In light of the recent bombing in Jeruslam, Pardes alum Courtney Miller (Spring 2010) shares a post of hers from last year. Courtney has made Aliyah and now lives in Jerusalem. The bus: my constant companion. I wait for her. I get annoyed with her. I marvel at her. I wish I could give her Continue Reading »

The Barrier

Posted on February 26, 2011 by Shibley

No, not the barrier you’re likely thinking of. Rather, the language barrier that exists for anybody who is praying in a language that is not their native tongue. I remember during my religious school days that we struggled to simply pronounce the words well enough to be able to recite them in public. Eventually, we Continue Reading »

Thoughts on Gemara

Posted on February 21, 2011 by Zach

About a month ago, we began our second semester at Pardes, giving us the chance to switch up our class schedules.  I had been studying Tanakh (in the Intensive Tanakh Track), and enjoying it, but I didn’t find the Tanakh course offerings for the new semester very interesting.  Instead, I decided to take advantage of the Continue Reading »

Photos of Rabbi Yitzhak Frank @ Pardes

Posted on February 20, 2011 by David Bogomolny

Proof that R. Frank lectured on Aramaic grammar in the Pardes Beit Midrash 🙂

Starstruck

Posted on February 8, 2011 by Pious Antic

Rabbi Yitzhak Frank gave a lecture on Aramaic grammar at Pardes last week. The casual reader of this blog could be forgiven for failing to leap out of his chair in excitement after reading the above sentence. I, however, was simply giddy when I walked into the beit midrash and saw Rabbi Frank standing there Continue Reading »

[PEP Student] Parshat Shmot

Posted on December 26, 2010 by Tamara Frankel

Dear Friends, It’s hard to believe how the winter months are passing and in particular, that the ‘holiday season’ is upon us. In Israel, you don’t really feel that it’s almost Christmas — there are no colourfully decorated trees in front yards, no “Jingle Bells” playing in the mall. Being in a dominantly Jewish society Continue Reading »

[New Voices] Hityavnut (Hellenization)

Posted on December 13, 2010 by Barer


I’d like to focus on something I mentioned very briefly in my overview of Chanukkah which has been coming up in my mind as I consider life back home: namely, Hityavnut or Hellenization, or what would today be called assimilation.

The word gives varied messages manifested in different languages. Hityavnut is an example of a word that I find to have a different and deeper feel to it in Hebrew than its counterpart in English. “Greekify” hardly implies assimilation, and yet that is what Hityavnut would mean, on an extremely literal level. But that is not the most noteworthy part of this Hebrew word. Rather the fact that, as far as I could tell being around Israelis discussing issues of modern assimilation, Hityavnut is a word that means not only Hellenization (only meaningful in the context of discussing the Chanukkah story) but its modern meaning is also assimilation. I guess this could just be me falling for the allure of a language whose words encapsulate the history I learned growing up in Jewish day school, but which had no connection to the language I was speaking. I find it fascinating that I can understand the meaning of Hityavnut without understanding what the denotation of the word ‘assimilation’ as long as I know the Chanukkah story; English has nothing like it.

Returning to the content of this appealing Hebrew term, I have what amounts to a simple concern about living in a Jewish and a secular world simultaneously. Can one live in both worlds without being swayed ‘too much’ by either? What is ‘too much’? Can one have purely secular, non-Jewish interactions as well as purely religious, Jewish interactions and still keep all the varying world-views and lenses together in one’s head? While such questions have undoubtedly been asked endlessly by anyone who is not content to live in exclusively Jewish surroundings their entire lives, each time, and for each individual, it is slightly different based on each individual’s circumstances.

What should one’s goals be in living simultaneously in both worlds? The discussion with Israeli teenagers mentioned the Westernization of Israel in ways exemplified by the prevalence of Gap stores and other Americanized companies, and the fact that they are in English for the most part. No doubt language is more than the sum of its parts, and losing a language means so much more than losing the words, as the example of Hityavnut shows. But if recent news is any indication, we need more people that are deeply aware of more than one culture’s needs and concerns.