Saturday, December 31, 2011

Standing Together

Over Hanukkah break from Pardes, I had the opportunity to help deliver some much needed winter thermal shirts and gloves to soldiers in the south on the border of Sinai. I went with an organization called Standing Together ( which buys and delivers items to soldiers in the IDF that the government can't afford.  They also take sweets, like sufganiot, candy, soda, popcorn, bourekas, and in the summer time, ice cream.  

It was really an incredible experience and I hope to do it again soon! These soldiers are so grateful for everything, even a piece of gum! It was a great mitzvah and a great way to show my appreciate to all that they give to my country. 

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The best Hanukkah songs are in Yiddush!

"Living in Israel and being Jewish is a struggle."

When I made aliyah a year ago, I knew that I was doing so on the grounds that it would be challenging, not only financially or emotionally, but because Israel is difficult. There is nothing easy about Israel, and maybe that is where her true beauty comes from.

Pardes set up a trip for our community to Hebron. Having been to Hebron two years ago, the announcement of the trip already made me a little uneasy as images sprang into my memory. The early deserted streets, Palestinains walking with their heads down hoping not to make eye contact, settlers strolling with AK47s over their shoulders. Hebron is not an easy city to visit. I wouldn't say that it is dangerous, many of our IDF soldiers are keeping it's streets quiet and safe, but this city is existing as a polar opposite to what I wish for Israel in terms of peace. I want to live in Israel peacefully with my neighbors, neighbors of all religions. And as Eve (last name) one of our speakers stated, peace is only real when two sides are living together. Peace is not when one side is removed. 

 This visit to Hebron was different, we started with a tour of Tel Hebron (the excavations of the biblical city) followed by a tour of the Tomb of the Patriarchs, (which I loved!), we listened to a representative from Breaking the Silence, an organization designed to change the way that soldiers interact with residences in Hebron. Afterwards we listened to two different settlers living in Hebron about their reasons for living their and their hopes for the future. At the end of the day we talked to a Palestinian human rights activist who grew up and is now living in Hebron. Did you just ask yourself, "How long were these students in Hebron?" Well, you're right, it was a long intense day. But I found myself very grateful for the number of views that were presented to me.

 My struggle with Israel was not lessened after my second visit to Hebron, but I did find myself thinking that I made the right decision to live in a country that I love. In a country that I know will be here for me and my children in the future, a country that is always changing and evolving and learning to live peacefully. I know that there are things in Israel that I am not proud of, but there are things in the US that I am not proud of either. And despite these things, I am a proud citizen and know that I have to be here to help make the country better and even more beautiful than when I arrived.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

An AMAZING Pardes Day!!

This song was written and performed by Sam Rotenberg, a fellow student and friend, at Pardes! We were having a party in Gemera (Talmud) to celebrate finishing a long, complex, and difficult section. Sam wrote this song in honor of "the end". The Gemera we're learning is about Lost Objects, so in the song you'll hear about losing and finding things.  Obviously, if you have studied this before it's more entertaining, but it's still awesome that something so Rabbinic, can become so beautiful. Enjoy!

The second AMAZING thing to happen today was the start of recruitment for Pardes!! Evan and Kalie (another two incredible students, friends, and classmates) did an intro skit to get everyone (the student body and faculty) excited about recruitment. The skit was hilarious, thoughtful, wonderful!!
Everyday at Pardes is better and better! Studying at Pardes was by far one of the best choices I have made in my life!