The following is an excerpt from the executive summary of the new strategic plan. Click here to download a copy of the full executive summary.
In my six years at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies, I have spent time teaching and learning from one of my favorite rabbinic texts, the description in the an early Rabbinic midrash of Moshe remembering to take the bones of Joseph with him as the children of Israel escape from Egypt.
The midrash offers a vivid description of two aronot, arks, that are carried side by side for 40 years as the children of Israel make their way to the land of Israel. In one ark are the luchot habrit, the 10 Commandments; in the other are Joseph’s bones.
Usually, I teach this text to explore what it means to be a living embodiment of Torah. As we embark on a 3-year strategic plan, I think about this text in a new way: How can we hold on to our past in a way that helps us to move forward?
Just as Joseph’s bones symbolized the foundation upon which the Israelites could build their future, the rich and storied history of Pardes must be our launching pad, the basis for our own transformation as we march towards our bright future.
Pardes has inspired five decades of Jewish leadership marked by openness, passion, knowledge and inclusivity. This is our hallmark, and it will continue to strengthen us and our community in future generations. Pardes alumni educate, inspire, and transform their own students peers and communities on a daily basis. Our impact is far-reaching and long-lasting — over 1,200 Pardes alumni are past, current, and future Jewish professionals.
As we begin to implement our strategic plan, we do so within the context of ever-evolving Jewish identities. While our year-long immersive programs will remain our signature offering, the Pardes commitment to learning will increasingly need to adapt and expand to accommodate the new ways in which Jews think about religion, denominationalism, and personal growth.
Our ability to reach more learners in more places is only possible because of the strength of those who walk alongside us. Moses didn’t carry the ark with Joseph’s bones himself. Over 40 years, numerous people stepped up to fulfill the task. What a blessing it is for Pardes to be able to draw from the power of our community. We invite you to join us as we work to strengthen Jewish life around the world.
Leon A. Morris
PRESIDENT, PARDES INSTITUTE OF JEWISH STUDIES