We are living in a moment of an unprecedented breakdown in civil discourse. Judaism teaches that constructive disagreement for the sake of heaven (mahloket l’shem shamayim) is the holy work needed to repair seemingly irreconcilable differences. But it doesn’t happen on its own.
This Spring, Pardes and The Covenant Foundation are partnering to launch a new educational leadership cohort, The Mahloket Matters Covenant Fellowship, for a limited number of Pomegranate Prize recipients, Covenant Foundation grantees, and associated artists.
We often think of disagreements as an unfortunate aspect of life. Yet, in the tradition of the Mishnah and Talmud, mahkloket (debate) is a vital tool to generate discussion, critical thinking, personal growth, and the deepening of relationships. Through the study of Jewish texts and social psychology, we will distinguish between different types of disagreements and explore why good people may have diametrically opposing views on moral issues. In an age when civil discourse is on the decline and demonization of the other has become common practice, it is crucially important that we find the courage to productively engage with people with whom we disagree.
In each class of the “Mahloket Matters” series, we will explore a constructive disagreement revolving around a tension between competing values. In addition to taking a deep dive into the specific topic of each shiur, the broader goal of the Mahloket Matters series is to become adept at considering an issue from multiple perspectives and to recognize the conflicting values, needs, perspectives, and concerns of each side. Ultimately, we hope these experiences will help us cultivate a culture of constructive disagreement and debate within our community and in the world at large.
The fellowship will consist of two essential components:
- Group Study – Over the course of eight sessions, Covenant Fellows will explore a methodology of text study that delves into complex and contradictory narratives.
- Communal Action – Fellows will then have the opportunity to apply this methodology in their own work by creating programs that increase the desire and ability of constituents to understand and engage more constructively with conflicting political opinions today, and, ideally, improve civil discourse. As an outcome, fellows will be asked to transpose their inspiration and learning into a community engagement initiative (in a way that balances local creativity and established metrics) for their home communities. Each fellow will receive a $750 grant to underwrite their own projects, to be disbursed when fellows launch their respective programs. For more information, please click here for the requirements.
By participating in the MM Fellowship, fellows will:
- Receive both professional mentorship and financial support
- Immerse in highly relevant Pardes Torah they can then use to serve their own Jewish communities back home
- Become a critical voice in a movement to help foster respectful dialogue across North America
- Join a strong network of colleagues
Each fellow will be asked to lead one of the following types of event series within their community, using their $750 program grant. For each type of event, Pardes will offer a number of templates for fellows to choose from:
- High Visibility Events: Events should be a series of at least 2 events that reach a minimum of 75 people per event.
- High Intimacy Events: Cohorts should meet at least 5 times and reach a minimum of 15 people per event.
Types of fellow-led programs or events could include:
- Fellows lead discussion based directly on texts and themes directly cited in the curriculum.
- Fellows lead discussion on topics that are a jumping off from the Mahloket Matters (MM) curriculum (text based or other).
- Fellows form a Jewish text study group or book club on themes and authors that emerge from their learning.
- Option A: MM Learning Circles
Fellows hold a 4-5 part MM related series with a minimum of 15 people.
- Option B: Fellows Create Their Own Model
- Needs to have a minimum of 15 people per event
- Needs to utilize the MM curriculum
- Needs to incorporate some form of Havruta
- Writing – Fellows will be asked to write an op-ed piece about their experience in the fellowship. This can be for a national or local Jewish newspaper, or for an organization in which they work or are an alumnus of.
- Social Media– Over the course of the fellowship, fellows will be given reflection prompts to post on social media in order to engage their networks in the Torah of Mahloket Matters.
- Evaluation– Fellows will fill out an evaluation form at the end of their experience in the fellowship.
- At the completion of their own programs, fellows will be required to have their participants fill out an evaluation form (Pardes will provide a template).
- Promotion– Any fliers or social media posts regarding fellow MM related programming should be sure to tag Pardes and include Pardes’s logo
9-10:30 am PST
11 am-12:30 pm Central
12-1:30 pm EST
Sessions: All sessions will meet virtually, and take place on Wednesdays:
- Session 1 – May 12
- Session 2 – May 20 (THURSDAY)
- Session 3 – May 26
- Session 4 – June 2
- Session 5 – June 9
- Session 6 – June 16
- Session 7 – June 23
- Session 8 – June 30
Post curriculum sessions:
- Post session check ins with faculty and fellows
- Post program debrief
The application process is closed.