Pardes helps Jewish studies educators enter the field more rapidly.
As Jewish educators express a desire to earn qualifications, find jobs and earn salaries quicker, the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies announced a new format for its educator training program, now known as the Pardes Teacher Fellowship. Teachers will spend two summers and an academic year at Pardes in Jerusalem, including intensive Torah study, Hebrew language ulpan and pedagogic training. They will then spend one academic year teaching Jewish studies at a day school in North America, alongside rigorous pedagogic training and one-on-one coaching. A final summer will be back at Pardes in Jerusalem for a curriculum-building workshop and graduation.
David Fain, Rav Beit Hasefer at Detroit Hillel Day School, and Seth Korelitz, a Judaic Studies teacher at Hillel Day School, are alumni of the program’s previous iteration.
“The Pardes Educators program inspired my thirst for Jewish learning and my love of Jewish text,” Fain said. “The PEP teachers modeled that being a Jewish educator meant being a role model for the values we teach, combining learning Torah with living a life of Gemilut Chasadim, acts of loving kindness.
“PEP lit the spark for living a Jewish life based in Jewish learning and taught me the skills and ability to decipher and determine meaning from Jewish texts,” Fain added. “As an educator, I strive to teach the next generation of Jewish leaders these skills and to discover meaning and create their own unique Jewish identities.”
Adds Korelitz, “As someone who began teaching classical Jewish texts without any formal text learning of my own, studying with truly master teachers at Pardes increased my confidence in my own teaching and greatly increased my own skills.
“Many times,” Korelitz added, “as I am preparing a lesson for my students, I ask myself, “How would my Pardes teachers present this material?’ Few teachers are as fortunate as I was to be able to attend Pardes mid-way through my career, but it left an indelible mark on me, as I have seen Pardes do for everyone who is blessed to be part of PEP.”
For 23 years, the educator program has inspired and trained a cadre of Jewish studies teachers. Participants previously spent two years in Jerusalem in the beit midrash, accruing a deep knowledge of Jewish text content and skills, while simultaneously being trained as first-rate pedagogues. Of those two years, they spent one month each spring in student teaching roles in the United States or Canada. They then went off to teach for a minimum of three years at day schools across North America.
Graduates are consistently sought after and consistently rate very highly in their schools as knowledgeable meaning-makers and role models for their students. The new Pardes Teacher Fellowship offers the same high-level beit midrash Torah skills and acumen, teacher training and graduate degree in a new, refreshed and improved format.
“We have to meet the evolving needs of those entering the workforce as Jewish studies teachers,” says Aviva Lauer, who directs the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. “Those who decide to enter the field of day school education are antsy, like most young people these days, about completing pre-service training and the time it takes to earn a qualification. They will benefit from accelerated pre-service training and from deepened in-service training. They will enter the field more quickly, begin to earn a salary faster, all while cultivating their teaching craft under the guidance of master mentors and supervisors. What remains the same is full tuition funding at Pardes, generous living stipends for year one and subsidized MAEd courses.”
The re-launch of the program occurs during Pardes’ 50th anniversary, as they expand programs and offerings as part of a major strategic plan, break ground on a new building and undergo more changes to further develop excellent Jewish educators today.