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 Myra Meskin Gurin is the Associate Director of the Maas Center for Jewish Journeys at the American Jewish University, where she’s honored to work with those engaging in meaningful identity formation through the Ziering BCI Program, the Miller Introduction to Judaism Program, Marriage for Life and the AJU Community Mikveh.
SHARE A PARDES MEMORY.
Going to Turkey with Levi and dancing the Hora with Turkish Jewish women at the grand opening of the restored Great Synagogue of Edirne.
HOW DOES PARDES CONTINUE TO AFFECT YOU TODAY?
Being in a pluralistic community at Pardes is actually what helped me recognize and take pride in what I love about my particular brand of Jewish observance, and it helped me claim my voice in that conversation. Being in conversation with so many different voices helped me articulate my own in a new way that served me throughout rabbinical school and to this day. When a BCIer or Intro. to Judaism student asks me what I love about Judaism, my answers are inspired by that voice I found while at Pardes.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN YOUR WORK?
As the Director of BCI, a summer program for Jewish young adults from around the world, I’m most proud of the community we build. A community where participants feel safe enough to express themselves exactly as they are, where they can be respected while sharing an unpopular opinion, where they can enjoy Shabbat alongside someone who practices Judaism totally differently. I’m proud that the BCI community gives participants a vision for what is possible in community, where joy is unbounded and trust and vulnerability are sacred, where creativity is holy and where every voice matters.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE PASSAGE, PASUK, OR TEXT?
Shabbat 88b-89a, where Rebbi Yehoshua ben Levi imagines what happened to Moses when he ascended Mt. Sinai. It forces us to face our imposter syndrome, and claim what we know to be our birthright.
IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY SHABBAT GUEST, WHO WOULD IT BE?
My sister Diane. She lives far away, and when we’re together there’s lots of kids and noise – which is beautiful and lovely – and also, I love when we can just talk without worrying about the time. I’d ask her about her current spiritual needs and practice, something I was first inspired to think about because of her.
WHAT DOES THE JEWISH WORLD NEED MOST RIGHT NOW?
The Jewish world needs creativity and out-of-the-box thinking, and communities ready to experiment. Jewish community’s ability to survive and thrive over the generations has been due to those creative thinkers that respected the tradition while daring to step just beyond the accepted norm, and communities willing to attune themselves to a new vision and take that leap of faith.
WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO SHARE?
My greatest blessings are my husband Ben (Year Program ’12-’13, Kollel ’17-’18) and our 19-month-old daughter Eleanor.