They are leading and creating organizations and businesses of all kinds, responding to humanitarian crises, writing novels, educating at all levels, creating works of art, and so much more! In celebration of Pardes’s 50th, we are highlighting 50 standout alumni whose accomplishments exemplify the rich texture of the Pardes community worldwide.
Rabbi Jordan Soffer is the Head of School at Striar Hebrew Academy in Sharon, MA. In this role, Jordan oversees all educational and administrative activities at Striar Hebrew Academy.
Jordan was awarded the Covenant Foundation’s 2020 Pomegranate Prize, which recognizes emerging leaders in the field of Jewish education, and is currently Rabbinic Mentor for the Day School Leadership Training Institute.
He is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education at Yeshiva University.
CAN YOU SHARE A SPECIAL PARDES MEMORY?
My father came to visit for a week once. I shared with Zvi Hirschfield that I wanted to show my dad, who is deeply spiritual and committed to Judaism, but not particularly observant, why I had fallen in love with a more observant lifestyle. Without missing a beat, Zvi invited us both to his home for shabbat. It was one of the most meaningful shabbats of my life.
WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS AT PARDES?
I loved morning seder with Zvi. Though I had studied gemara from the time I was 13 or 14, it was the first time that I realized its deep resonance in my life, both practically and spiritually.
WHAT DID YOU DO FOR THE FIRST TIME AT PARDES?
I still remember leading slichot for the first time! I had spent years sitting in the back, whispering to friends during slichot, so it felt good to learn them well enough to eventually lead them for the minyan.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE SPOT IN JERUSALEM?
For me, it will always be the Kotel. Knowing that I can stand that close to the epicenter of Jewish history is overwhelming. Realizing that a lowly retaining wall can become elevated is a testament to the power of the place.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SHABBAT GUEST, WHO WOULD IT BE?
My wife’s Saba, Rabbi Morris Dembowitz z”l. He passed away before I met Marti, but occupies such a large place in her (and now our) family’s identity. I hear so much of his Torah second hand, and would love to “שותה בצמא דברו”, “drink from his wisdom with thirst.”
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR WORK?
Our school’s unwavering comittment to providing a Jewish education to any student or family that desires it. We are patient pedagogically, generous financially, and deeply committed to providing a quality Jewish education for all.
WHAT DOES THE JEWISH WORLD NEED MOST RIGHT NOW?
Positivity and optimism. Judaism and Torah are eternal and amazing! As a community, we focus too much time, energy and resources on challenges and deficiencies. We need to focus on what is good and right, and to celebrate the amazing gifts that we have!
HOW DOES PARDES CONTINUE TO AFFECT YOU TODAY?
Pardes showed me how Torah can be a source of light, and of purpose. It placed Torah, Torah learning, and Torah living at the center of my life and my career.