Religion & Beliefs

Pardes: Better than a Sandals Resort

While there are a lot of programs that will take you to Israel for a whirlwind Jewish experience, there’s nothing else quite like Pardes.  I mentioned this program briefly a while back, but I want to repeat myself here, in … Read More

By / December 1, 2006

While there are a lot of programs that will take you to Israel for a whirlwind Jewish experience, there’s nothing else quite like Pardes.  I mentioned this program briefly a while back, but I want to repeat myself here, in case there’s a Jewcy reader who might benefit from the redundancy. 

Now, bear in mind I’ve never been myself (I was planning to go for a month right before I found out that I was pregnant) but a lot of my friends have spent time at Pardes, and it really does sound magical, life-changing, different.  Full of crazy interesting people from all walks of life, and serious Jewish learning, with a really personal touch. 

It’s a school, but you can go for a weekend retreat, or years of extensive study.  And they offer classes for all levels of student.  I’ve known people not yet formally converted to attend, and I’ve known rabbinical students to attend… I’ve known people to go to Pardes doubting the experience, and come back transformed… they tell me it’s an insane and wonderful place to be. 

The Pardes mission  statement includes this language:  As a matter of principle, Pardes is not affiliated with any political party or religious denomination. At the same time, we are committed to Jewish practice as prescribed by Halacha (Jewish Law), and this is reflected in our official activities and events. Pardes faculty do not impose any patterns of observance or belief on students. Which is pretty damn cool. 

Now, I realize that for a lot of people, the idea of spending your vacation entrenched in Jewish texts, spiritual retreat, and social justice… sounds a little… well, freaky.  But I promise you, it will be something you’ll remember forever, at the very least. 

And I’d love to hear from any secular Jews out there who’ve tried it!