The Pardes Elul Program

Establish the Foundation for a Meaningful New Year

As the Jewish calendar approaches the holiest days of the year, Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, the Hebrew month of Elul is traditionally observed through study and introspection. The Pardes Elul Program embraces the concept of Elul as a month of Torah study and transformation, inviting short-term participants to join us in the Pardes Beit Midrash. 

During the month of Elul, program participants join Year Program students at the beginning of their year of Jewish text study. Elul students participate in daily classes, many of which explore various themes relevant to the upcoming Jewish holidays, including Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah.

Through a combination of traditional havruta (paired) study and seminar-style classes, full-time and part-time Elul students will gain in-depth understanding, practical knowledge, and inspiration. The knowledge and experience gained during the Elul Program will enhance their personal celebration of these holidays for years to come.

Program Dates

  • September 3 – October 15

Application Requirements

  • B.A. from an accredited institution
  • Basic Hebrew reading skills or higher.
  • A reference from someone familiar with the applicant’s study skills and/or Jewish commitment as well as personal character.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Tuition for the Elul Program: $600
Discounted tuition for Israeli citizens: 950nis.

Financial aid is not available for this program.

The Elul Program is free for alumni of the following programs:

  • The Year / Semester Program and Fellowships
  • Pardes Center for Jewish Educators Programs (PEP, PEEP, and PTF)
  • Kollel

A 25% discount is available for alumni of the following programs:

  • Awakening the Divine Spirituality Retreat
  • Winter Learning Intensive
  • Hourly Program
  • Summer Program

Have Questions?

The Elul Program is geared toward curious Jews of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations who are serious about studying Jewish texts and exploring the many diverse aspects of Jewish life and culture.

Bonus – you will get to spend the Jewish Holidays in Israel, in a warm and vibrant community setting.

No, students of all ages are welcome. While the majority of our students are in their 20’s and 30s, there are others in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and beyond – a true celebration of lifelong learning. Pardes takes pride in the intergenerational nature of our community, and everyone benefits from the sharing of perspectives, life experiences and outlooks that comes from studying together and building meaningful relationships.

Anyone who is currently considered Jewish according to any of the major denominations of Judaism, or is already engaged in a formal conversion process, is eligible to apply to Pardes.

Yes, however on rare occasions, we are able to make exceptions.

Jewish literacy is an invaluable part of living a rich Jewish life. The text skills and particularly the special seminars themed around the High Holy days will enrich your experience of these festivals forever.

Being in Israel, and particularly Jerusalem, allows you to live by the Jewish calendar and feel it all around you. Be it the hundreds of different choices of synagogues within a ten-minute walk of Pardes, to the way the shops and homes are decorated and made festive by the upcoming holiday, you will see, feel, smell, taste and embrace the holidays like never before.

Want to pray at the Kotel? It is a short walk away.

Want to hear the Priestly Blessing on Sukkot? Join the tens of thousands of Jewish people who will join you there to receive it, wrapped in prayer shawls.

Walk in white on the streets on Yom Kippur where not a car travels, and revel in the spiritual space that manifests as soon as the sun sets on the eve of each festival.

It is simply unparalleled.

Students coming for the Elul program join the wider student body who are here for a semester or a year, for the first month of their program. The classes will be based on the Fall schedule that those students are learning, with additional seminars focusing on the High Holy Days. Morning text classes will all have a Jewish Holy Day themed text focus as well. While we prepare the schedule – here’s what we offered during last year: schedule and class descriptions.

Pardes offers classes for beginners in Jewish text, and electives in how to navigate Jewish rituals including the structure of the siddur, the laws of Shabbat and kosher, familiarization with blessings and celebrating festivals.

Pardes students come from a variety of backgrounds including yeshivot, midrashot and rabbinical schools. Advanced students have challenging and thought-provoking study options, including a Kollel level which offers a unique framework and methodological approaches to Talmud, Halakha and philosophy.

Pardes is non-denominational and co-ed. Our teachers and students come from a variety of different backgrounds and perspectives. This diversity creates opportunities that facilitate personal and communal growth. We encourage our students to think critically, identify nuance and appreciate the importance of debate and differing opinions in Jewish tradition and contemporary Jewish dialogue.

No, there are no tests or grades. Students who choose to study at Pardes do it for their personal enrichment. 

Students must be comfortable speaking and understanding English, which is the primary language used in conversation at Pardes. Classes are taught in English, and discussions are held in English. The texts we study are primarily in Hebrew and/or Aramaic. No matter what your previous experience is with Hebrew, our teachers will help you improve your skills. Translations are often available; however, you will also be challenged to understand the nuances of the original text.

Students with all levels of Hebrew come to Pardes, including beginners. We require students to attend at least one month of Hebrew language classes (ulpan) before starting classes at Pardes. Some suggestions of places our students recommend are here: 

Hebrew Study Information

If you are a fluent Hebrew speaker, you may ask for an exemption from the requirement to do a one month ulpan.

A year of study in the Pardes Year Program serves as excellent preparation for rabbinical school. Pardes offers special support for students enrolled in our pre-rabbinic track. Participants in this track have a faculty mentor and enjoy special lectures from a range of guest speakers representing a variety of perspectives. Participants also meet representatives from various rabbinical schools. Pardes alumni have gone on to attend rabbinical schools from all of the major denominations.

Yes! Part-time students study between 20-30 hours per week. Those studying fewer than 20 hours/week are considered ‘hourly students’ and tuition is determined by the number of class hours per week. Acceptance to classes on this basis is subject to space and the approval of the teacher. Note that hourly fees cover classes only; hourly students are warmly invited to join tiyulim (trips) at an additional cost.

Many students join us for the Elul program as a ‘taster’ and then decide to stay on.

By arrangement with your teachers, and subject to space, this is certainly an option! Staying for a semester or a year can make you eligible for Fellowships or Financial Aid so do discuss this with our team when you’ve decided.

Pardes is a non-denominational institution that believes that the Torah is the inheritance of each and every Jewish person, and seeks to offer everyone access to the texts of our tradition. Our commitment to a shared Beit Midrash (house of study) filled with a multiplicity of voices stems from the idea that “Who is Wise? The one who learns from everyone.” (Pirkei Avot ch.4)

Prayer services are a student-led initiative. Typically there are multiple options, including a mechitza minyan, an egalitarian minyan and a creative minyan (with varying “flavors” and degrees of frequency depending on the year and community). There is a daily minyan for mincha. Some students also take advantage of the numerous neighborhood synagogue options that reflect different traditions and practices.

All prayer services at Pardes are optional.

One of the most powerful aspects of living in Israel for a significant amount of time is fully experiencing the rhythm of the Jewish calendar, including the weekly build-up to and celebration of Shabbat in all of its varied expressions. Jewish holidays in Israel bring with them distinct sights, sounds and smells, often a full month before the holiday begins. Orienting yourself to the Jewish rhythm of life and seasons is part of the challenge and reward of being in Israel for an extended period of time. Shared Shabbat meals are a treasured aspect of students’ Pardes experience. Students regularly host each other, and are also invited by staff, faculty or board members.

While opportunities for participation in Jewish ritual life are readily available at Pardes, students are not required to adhere to any specific type of observance or lifestyle to attend Pardes; we are a non-denominational and non-coercive institution. All official Pardes activities are certified kosher and Shabbat is observed in public and shared spaces when we are together as a community.

The only dress requirement is that shoes must be worn in the Beit Midrash; otherwise, students should come to class in what they feel comfortable wearing.

Students live independently in Jerusalem, giving them the opportunity to live like a local in the culturally diverse city. Many choose to live with other Pardes students while others opt to live with roommates from outside the Pardes network.  Additional information about housing can be found here. In addition, upon acceptance, Pardes  offers access to  a housing information  listserv, which is regularly updated with information about available housing. 

Pardes students are free to enjoy many pursuits outside of school. Many enjoy volunteering, exploring, hiking, joining local sports teams, singing or playing music in local spaces, and checking out the arts and culture scene. Students regularly organize social gatherings, including game nights, poetry and writing workshops and open mic nights.

We always have a trip to visit the ‘shuk Arba Minim’ – the ‘four types’ market before Sukkot to observe how people inspect and purchase their lulav and etrog! Sometimes there are additional tours included during the Elul program – it is dependent upon how many learning days we have before Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

If an additional (overnight) trip is scheduled, Elul students are invited to participate, however the tuition for Elul does not cover these trips. We will update you on the cost prior to any scheduled trips.

At Pardes, we feel that volunteering in the broader community is a natural extension of our learning, and reflects a commitment to Torah values. We build volunteering time into our schedule on Thursday afternoons, when students contribute to a variety of initiatives. Some of these are: singing in a nursing home, helping run community gardens, playing sport / social activities with kids with special needs, and teaching English at a refugee center, among many others.

We understand and share the safety concerns of students and their families. We take precautions to maximize safety while at Pardes and on organized trips, in ongoing consultation with external guidelines and professional security services. Pardes has robust emergency protocols in place and students report feeling both well-informed and supported.