Pre-Shavuot Virtual Yom Iyun

Holy Relationships: Exploring Our Spiritual Identity

Join us for a day of learning with Pardes scholars and Ramah Darom educators from the United States and Israel. Together (virtually), we will study Holy Relations: Exploring Our Spiritual Identity.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

8am-12pm PST / 11am-3pm EDT / 6pm-10pm IDT

Suggested donation: $18/person

*Jewish Professionals*

We will offer designated sessions geared for current Jewish Professionals that will directly address their work in the field. The schedule below indicates which sessions are meant for Jewish professionals in the class title descriptions.

Pre- Shavuot Virtual Yom Iyun Graphic

This program is generously being offered by Ramah Darom and the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. We recommend a voluntary donation of $18 per participant, but any amount is appreciated.

About This Year's Theme

Holy Relationships: Exploring Our Spiritual Identity

The chag (holiday) of Shavuot is the celebration of the Jewish People receiving the Torah and entering into a sacred covenant with God. Our texts say that three thousand years ago, at that time in our nation’s history, God’s hand could be seen and felt in the everyday lives and ultimate destiny of the Jewish People (even if not always appreciated). But what exactly is the nature of our relationship with the Divine today, when our connection is less tangible and certainly less agreed-upon? Join us as we examine what it means to inhabit a holy relationship, and to own our spiritual identities.

2020 Schedule

11:00am EDT

Opening Panel: Holy Relationships in a Time of Social Distance

View the recording here

Featuring Rabbi Leon Morris, Rabba Yaffa Epstein, Rabbi Meir Schweiger, and Aviva Lauer Golbert with moderators Eliana Leader and Rabba Shani Gross.

12:30pm EDT

  1. Identity, Spirituality and What gets in the Way with Rabbi Dr. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy
    The great modern Jewish thinker, Rav Yitzhak Hutner (The Pahad Yitzhak), asks: What prevents us from realizing our sense of self and connecting spiritually? How can Torah help? His conclusions are especially relevant for our current time. We’ll engage in a close read of Pahad Yitzhak Shavuot 21.
  2. Aaron, Moses, and Miriam – Siblinghood in the Torah, and in the Midrash with Rabba Yaffa Epstein
    This session will explore three of the most complex characters in the bible from a perspective that we don’t often discuss – – their siblinghood. We’ll see how the Torah describes their relationships, and how the Rabbis of the Midrash then interpret, reinterpret, and reinterpret again those relationships and what that can teach us about sibling relationships today!
  3. Smelling Mount Sinai with Eliana Leader (For Jewish Professionals)
    Exceptional Jewish education allows for each individual Jewish journey to be identifiable with and connected to the collective story of the Jewish People. By combining personal identity, subject matter, and the right teaching methodologies together, any topic can become a powerful and “sticky” learning moment. In this session, we will look at the story of the giving of the Torah as an example of a Jewish experiential moment in history.

2:00pm EDT

  1. Becoming a Servant of G-d with Rabbi Meir Schweiger
    In our session, we will study two figures, Avraham and Moshe, who are referred to, in the Tanakh, as “servants of G-d.” We will examine how each one of them needed to go through a transformative process before he could earn this title.
  2. The Sexual & The Sacred with Rabba Shani Gross
    By examining Biblical and Talmudic texts, we will explore the degree to which our tradition enables us to tap into the spiritual through the sexual. Can human sexuality be a tool to access the divine? We will investigate this question as we study the relationship between ritual, sacred objects, and sexuality – how are these categories kept distinct, when tradition blurs the lines and possible implications for our own lives.
  3. The Holy Relationship between Supervisor and Supervisee – A Tale of David and Nathan with Aviva Lauer Golbert (For Jewish Professionals)
    King David (whose date of birth and date of death, according to tradition, were both on Shavuot!), was a leader with some serious weaknesses. However, he was also considered the best king who ever lived and the progenitor of the Messiah. How might we reconcile those two components? Our answer lies in the story of how he relates to his most important supervisee – Nathan the Prophet – and can inform how we interact in our work lives today with those we oversee.

Zoom links to all sessions will be provided when you register.

Pardes Faculty

Below are the incredible Pardes educators who will be leading virtual sessions.

Rabba Yaffa EpsteinRabba Yaffa Epstein is the Director of the Wexner Heritage Program and oversees the development and curriculum for these dynamic lay leaders throughout the United States and North America who take part in the program. Yaffa has also served as a faculty member for the Wexner Heritage Program since 2015. She most recently served as the Director of Education, North America for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies where she implemented a comprehensive educational vision for advancement of the institute in North America.

Yaffa received Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshivat Maharat and holds a Law Degree from Bar-Ilan University. She has studied at the Pardes Kollel, the Advanced Talmud Institute at Matan and the Talmud Department of Hebrew University. She has been a teacher of Talmud, Jewish law, and Liturgy at Pardes for over a decade, and has served as the Director of the Beit Midrash at the Dorot Fellowship in Israel. She has taught Talmud and Jewish Law at Yeshivat Maharat, The Wexner Heritage Program, The Drisha Institute and Young Judaea. Yaffa has lectured at Limmud Events around the world, has written curriculum for the Global Day of Jewish Learning and has created innovative educational programming for Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish

Aviva Lauer GolbertAviva Lauer Golbert is the Director of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators (PCJE). She majored in Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, and earned a Masters degree in Midrash at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies. Aviva is a Jewish educator with over twenty years of experience in curriculum development, classroom teaching, school administration and educational consulting. Upon making Aliyah in 1996, Aviva developed formal and informal educational materials for Melitz and at the Leo Baeck Education Center, where she also gained experience in teaching pluralistic Judaism. She then served as the head of the department of Jewish Studies at Immanuel College, London. Working at the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators since 2009, Aviva has been a teaching coach, director of recruitment, director of the Summer Curriculum Workshop, and Assistant Director of PCJE before taking on her current role in 2017.

Rabba Shani GrossRabba Shani Gross is the Director of North American Programs at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. Shani most recently served as Pardes’s Assistant Director of Education NA. Shani earned rabbinic ordination from Yeshivat Maharat, is a Wexner Graduate Fellow/Davidson Scholar (Class 29), and a former Hillel Fellow for Rabbinic Entrepreneurship (OOI). Shani was the Director of the Silicon Valley Beit Midrash, a center of learning on the West Coast that empowers Jewish people of all backgrounds to study classic Jewish texts in a pluralistic, warm and intellectually challenging environment. When not teaching, Shani can usually be found with her husband Chaim, chasing after their two beautiful sons, Elan and Navon.

Meesh HammerMeesh Hammer teaches Talmud and the Social Justice Track at Pardes. Originally from Washington, D.C., Meesh has a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. Her dissertation explored the courageous manner in which the rabbis of the Talmud created a new criminal punishment system. In 2015, Meesh completed her studies at Beit Midrash Har’el and received ordination from Rabbi Herzl Hefter and Rabbi Daniel Sperber.

Meesh is also a graduate of NATIV, Pardes, Midreshet Lindenbaum, Drisha, and ATID. She has received many fellowships including Lady Davis, National Foundation for Jewish Culture, Memorial Foundation and ATID. She has also taught at NYU, Drisha and Midreshet Lindenbaum.

Despite having written her dissertation about criminal punishment in the Talmudic period, Meesh is known by her husband and three children as a lover of mercy and kindness.

Rabbi Leon MorrisRabbi Leon Morris is the President of Pardes and is the first alumnus to head the institution (Year Program alumnus ’94-’95; Summer Program alumnus ’93 and ’94). Leon made aliyah with his wife Dasee Berkowitz (Pardes Year Program alumna ’94-’95) and their three children in June 2014, after serving as the rabbi of Temple Adas Israel in Sag Harbor, NY. He was the founding director of the Skirball Center for Adult Jewish Learning at Temple Emanu-El (now the Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center) in Manhattan. Before coming to Pardes, Leon served as a Vice President for Israel Programs at the Shalom Hartman Institute and was a faculty member at Hebrew Union College.

Ordained from Hebrew Union College in 1997 where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow, he has worked extensively with the Jewish community of India, beginning in 1990 when he served as a Jewish Service Corps volunteer for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. He was also a Mandel Jerusalem Fellow. Leon has taught at Orthodox, Conservative and Reform institutions and is a regular contributor to the Jewish, US and Israeli press. He is an editor of the new Reform High Holy Day machzor, Mishkan HaNefesh and is a contributor to Jewish Theology in Our Time: A New Generation Explores the Foundations and Future of Jewish Belief (edited by Elliot Cosgrove, Jewish Lights, 2010).

Rabbi Meir SchweigerRabbi Meir Schweiger teaches Chumash, Parshat HaShavua, Mishna, Talmud, Halakha, Siddur, and Interpersonal Relations at Pardes. Meir made aliyah in 1972 from the Bronx, NY, immediately after graduating from City College in New York. He did his advanced Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, and Yeshivat Har Etzion, receiving ordination from Rabbi Zalman Nehemiah Goldberg of Jerusalem. He received his M.Ed in Teaching Bible from the Herzog College in Gush Etzion. Meir has also taught Talmud and Bible at the Shapell College of Jewish Studies, Michlala, Nishmat and Beit Midrash L’torah. Since 1977, he has been a full-time faculty member at Pardes and has taught more hours and classes than anyone else on the staff. In addition to teaching, Meir has been responsible for the “affective” side of Pardes, coordinating and supervising tefillot (prayer), tiyulim (hikes), shabbatonim, and pre-holiday yemei iyun (full-day study programs). His official title is Mashgiach Ruhani (Director of Religious Life), which reflects the impact he has had on the personal and spiritual growth of many of our students. For 10 years, Meir was the Director of the Pardes Fellows’ Program, for returning, 2nd-year students, and the Educational Director of the Executive Learning Seminar. For three years, Meir was the mainstay of Pardes’ podcast series on the weekly Torah portion, and he has over 200 recordings online.

About Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies

Pardes is an open, co-ed and non-denominational Jewish learning community, based in Jerusalem and with programs worldwide.

Students encounter and grapple with classic texts and traditions of Judaism while exploring their relevance to today’s most pressing issues.

Pardes empowers students with the knowledge and tools to take ownership of their Jewish experience.

Diversity is at the core of Pardes and students represent a broad spectrum of the Jewish world. The result is a vibrant community constantly engaged in honest, dynamic and constructive debate leading to serious personal reflection and growth.

Why Pardes? Click here for a flash of inspiration from our Beit Midrash.

“Ramah Darom and Pardes are the two institutions that made me the Jew I am today. These are the institutions that propelled me toward rabbinical school. They are the institutions I hope my kids are someday involved with. I met my wife at Pardes, and I made my closest friends at Ramah Darom. I fell in love with Judaism at Ramah Darom, and expanded that love in the Pardes beit midrash. The fact that it took Pardes to bring me back to Ramah, and Ramah to bring me back to Pardes is, for me and my wife, almost poetic.” -Rabbi Sam Rotenberg, Los Angeles


Rebecca Guttman
Guest Relations
Phone: (404) 531-0801 Ext. 9215