Category Archives: pardes

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


Rosh Yeshiva of Pardes Goes to Amman


I got this in a Pardes email and thought it was really interesting. The Rosh Yeshiva of Pardes went to a trialogue conference in Amman, Jordan recently and wrote about his experiences. A few months ago, Landes also was part of a panel discussion about religious responses to the Rav Kook tragedy.

I have a lot of respect for Rabbi Landes on many levels. Not only is he a smart guy but also he has the ability to connect with people whether they are students or Pardes donors. I also know that without his traipsing about the U.S., Pardes wouldn’t be as well supported as it is.

Enjoy the article…

Sunday, May 25th

After a wonderful Shabbat, I saw my son Isaac off very early Sunday morning as he returned to his combat unit that surrounds Nablus, a seething hotbed of Islamic radical fundamentalism, to guard four Jewish settlements (several of which have their own brand of fundamentalism). It usually takes me a few hours to fully get a grip on myself, but I was off on my own “mission” – to participate in the International Scholars’ Abrahamic Trialogue, this year held in Jordan. The thrust of the conference would touch on peace. So whatever my own personal politics (as most of the Israeli electorate, it tends to veer; now keeping my son’s unit safe seems to exert a great force – again like most of Israel), we always have to work the peace side. That much I know from my study of Judaism.

Instead of flying, a group of us drove. In the van was my old friend R. Abe Cooper of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, who arranged for my participation, the distinguished thinkers R. Yitz and Blu Greenberg (Yitz had a significant impact upon Abe and me when we studied as undergraduates with him at Yeshiva) and a wise and witty religious Israeli businessman from the neighborhood who spends a lot of time in Arab countries and is best left unnamed. The trip up was a good idea – going through the dry and dusty Beit She’an Valley provided a transition, until we arrived at the bridge that crosses over. The normal bureaucracy was complicated by the fact that we had entered Jordan through the wrong bridge – our visas at the van on that side were not waiting. However, frowns were soon enough (some delay) smoothed over with smiles, chuckles and the application of the universal lubricant for getting the wheels moving.  Continue reading

Yom Hazikaron, Yom Haatzmaut

I really did want to post an entry yesterday but I guess I didn’t get around to it. Well it’s partly because my computer is in the shop–nothing happened to it, but just it needed a cleanup. Tonight I’m just using Eric’s computer to complete this entry.

Not having the computer over the last few days was actually pretty liberating in the sense that I wasn’t glued to the Internet. Instead I spent more time on the mirpeset, listening to the birds and voices of people on their way home or to someone elses’ for a meal or stretching and looking up at the clouds slowly changing form. It’s amazing how much more satisfactory this activity was compared to reading emails!

Some of you might be wondering why I haven’t addressed and am not planning to devote any of my blog to the Palestinian perspective of Israeli Independence Day. It’s not that I wanted to deny the existence of their narrative. There’s no denying that Independence Day is a crappy day for the Palestinians who feel they were kicked out of their homeland. It’s probably a very weird occassion for Palestinian Israeli citizens. The truth is that I could devote so much time to this topic and to my feelings towards this topic–which are complicated and contradictory.

For this year, I thought I should keep in simple and write about my perspective on the day to day level. G-d willing there will be many more years where I can write more in depth about this, Of course you’re welcome to add your story in the comment section below.

Israel is a place of contradicting and extreme emotions. The same could be said of Judaism which celebrates times of mourning (shiva, 9th of Av) and times of joy (weddings, Simchat Torah) with the same amount of intensity. People will tell you here that it’s unbelievable how the country goes from the intense low of Yom Hazikaron to the intense high of Yom Haatzmaut in such a short time. In the U.S. we celebrate Memorial Day and Independence Day in separate months, but here you are not made to forget that Israel’s independence was earned and continues to be earned through the sacrifice of its soldiers because commemoration is followed by celebration.  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- Muslim 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