February 2018

By Shira Forester

As a member of cohort four of the Nachshon Project, I have been given a unique opportunity that previous fellows did not have the privilege of experiencing. Every week, the entire cohort studies at The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies for a number of hours. Each fellow was given four course options to study while at Pardes. The classes are titled: Talmudic Heroines, Jewish Identity as Reflected in Tanach, Critical Issues in Jewish Thought, and Advanced Talmud. Allowing each of us the choice of what topic most interests us allows for a deeper connection to our studies. In addition, we are able to understand how to learn purely for the sake of learning, since the classes are not for academic credit.

Since I grew up attending Jewish day schools, text study was not a foreign concept to me. In fact, in my experience at a secular university, I struggled to adjust to the lack of text study as a young adult. I missed sitting with a chevruta in such a deep discussion that we were unaware of our surroundings and the time just flew by. I wished I could return to my high school where we could read a line of Talmud and attempt to dissect and understand it throughout an entire class period. When I heard about this opportunity to study at Pardes, I was excited to return to this kind of learning and practice my skills that have been out of use for a few years.

I was surprised to learn that many people did not approach this experience with the same eager excitement that I did.

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