Category Archives: jewish learning

Bye Bye Pardes

Well we actually said goodbye more than a week ago. And it’s not really goodbye because we’ll be in Israel. And we’ll be going to the Tikkun Leil Shavuot at Pardes.

On the other hand, the end of Pardes is the end of a chapter in our lives. It was a very special year. To be able to live in Jerusalem and study Jewish texts for one whole year is for many people an unattainable experience–whether from financial or psychological barriers–although it really shouldn’t be. In these times it’s takes a lot of chutzpah to leave the workforce and study for the sake of studying. Continue reading


Passover D’var Torah from Pardes Student

I just loved this D’var Torah that Pardes Student Rabbi Alice Dubinsky wrote for the Pardes alumni newsletter. I think it is wonderful that someone like her took the time to enrich her learning. I hope the D’var will give you a taste of the type of learning and the wonderful pieces of Torah that are unearthed at here.

D’var Torah from Current Pardes Student, Rabbi Alice Dubinsky

My family and I came to Jerusalem this year on sabbatical. My husband David and I mostly came for our children, Zachary and Hannah, who are 5 and 7. We put them in the local public school and after three months, they sound like Israelis. Neither David nor I will ever have their Hebrew skills no matter how much we study. We started too late. David is at ulpan, and I am spending my time here at Pardes. Most of my Pardes classmates are in their twenties and could be my children. They know so much: reams of Talmud, the subtleties of biblical grammar, and the philosophy of Jewish law. They also stay up really, really late at night hanging out in the Beit Midrash learning stuff that isn’t required. Hardly anyone misses class. So why does a 43 year old, who has been toiling in the fields of HaShem as a congregational rabbi for the last 15 years, spend my precious sabbatical with 20-somethings who remind me that I will never know as much Torah as they do? Continue reading

Good Day

Today was a very good day. As Ramban is the commentator of the month at Pardes, our Chumash class read a long entry of his about his perspective on miracles and mitzvot. More about Ramban and his commentary later. I’ll just say that Rashi typically writes short explanations on text in the chumash while Ramban is quite wordy.

This afternoon I attended a staff meeting/semi-retreat. One of the staff members, Ophir Yarden talked about his work in ICCI’s the Center for Interreligious Encounter with Israel. The program organizes tours for visiting groups and educates them about the different religious aspects of Israel. Some of the people whom ICCI has hosted have included religious students, religious leaders and college groups. Groups have included separate and combined Jewish and Christian delegations.

Ophir also talked about the upcoming conference that ICCI is helping to organize in Jerusalem for the International Council of Christians and Jews (ICCJ), an organization which ICCI also belongs to. The theme of the conference is “The Contribution of Jewish-Christian-┬áMuslim Dialogue to Peace-Buidling in the Middle East”
It sounds like it’s going to be a really interesting event!

Here’s something else that might interest you: I recently expanded a blog article I had written last month on Bush’s visit here for MASA’s online newsletter.

More About Friedman Trip and Rashi

Hi! So I’m waiting for a special guest entry from Gregg Friedman to tell you all about the Friedman’s visit to Israel last week. I’ll just say briefly that we had a really good time with Eric’s Mom, Gregg and Laura, and I think they got to see a LOT of interesting things they may not have seen on a bus tour. Continue reading

Rashi is the Player of the Month

Eric’s Mom, brother, Gregg, and future sister-in-law, Laura are in town for a few days. They were just in Romania this past week where Laura’s family is from, so it wasn’t too much of a hike to get to us. I think we’re driving up North with them tomorrow and we’ll hopefully find a place to stay overnight. I won’t get to my sizable load of Hebrew homework this weekend, but it’s a small price to pay for the chance to see the other side of the family, and I’ve been wishing that we could get out of Jerusalem for a little while now. It’s Gregg and Laura’s first time here, so it’s good for them to see some of the range of landscapes–physical and metaphysical–that make up this complicated place.

Meanwhile it’s Rashi’s month at Pardes. Apparently, Pardes will be featuring a super commentator of the month with the help of the Pardes Educators and Rashi is the first pick. It’s not surprising given that his commentary on the Torah and Gemara are still so popular after all of these years. Continue reading

Hanukkah oh Hanukkah (or is it Hannukah or Chanukkah…)

I think this is the first year in a while that I feel like I’m really celebrating Hanukkah it all of its joy and weirdness. Perhaps part of that feeling can be attributed to my celebrating it in Israel. On Tuesday night–the first night of Hannukah–on our way to Eric Gurevitz’s birthday party, we lit the candles and then walked to Rosa’s apartment who was hosting the event. On the way we played ‘spot the candles’ and tried to spot each and every window that had a hannukiah or candle. We passed a Yeshiva on the way to Emek Refaim and the dining room, which looked out onto the street, boasted hundreds of candles.

Perhaps you’re wondering why it’s such a big whoopla for people to put candles in windows. It’s not just that it looks pretty, but there’s a concept called ‘publicizing the miracle’ (pirsumei nisa), in lighting the Hanukkah candles. One of the miracles about the story of Hanukkah is that after rededicating the Temple, they found only one flask of oil to relight the Menorah, but the light from this flask of oil lasted eight days. So in current times, Jews are supposed to relive the miracle, as it were, by proudly broadcasting their own lights to the rest of the world. Continue reading