Pardes Day School Educators Program

PEP is a two-year graduate program that prepares its participants for rewarding careers as Judaic Studies teachers in Jewish day schools in North America. PEP is located at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

PEP opened in 2000. 164 Educators have graduated and teach in about 50 Jewish day schools (Community, Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox) throughout North America.

As Jewish educators, our graduates are called upon to teach, facilitate discussion and lead experiential activities about Israel in their day schools. As such, it is invaluable for them to live in Jerusalem for an extended, immersive period and to experience “real life” in Israel – its day-to-day routine; contact with Israelis; and the cycle of the Jewish/Israeli calendar, including religious holidays, national highlights and cultural events. Additionally, Educators participate in Pardes tiyulim, trips and retreats throughout the year, as well as community service in the greater Jerusalem area. Finally, seminars are provided for Educators offering background and skills to teach about Israel.

Educators study Bible, Mishna, Talmud and Jewish Thought in the vibrant Pardes Beit Midrash. The approach is a combination of lecture and havruta-style learning, encouraging in-depth exploration of texts in the original language. Students are placed in most classes according to level and are also encouraged to explore personal interests and fill in learning gaps.

The Beit Midrash is where we spend most of our time; it is where we study in an open, embracing and challenging environment. There, we come into direct contact with the text as we wrestle with its meaning for us personally and for our people and the world. Working with our havruta in the Beit Midrash, we sharpen our text skills, acquire content knowledge and deepen our understanding of ourselves as learners and as future educators.

Pardes teachers come from varied backgrounds and all have advanced degrees (Masters, Doctorate, or rabbinical degrees). They are very knowledgeable, approachable and highly dedicated to their students. Pardes teachers are committed to serious learning in an open environment and to responding to the diversity of their students.

Yes – they study Hebrew intensively during a summer (August) and winter (Jan-Feb) session each year. Ulpan-Or provides small classes and a curriculum especially designed for the Pardes Educators. Students are encouraged to take advantage of living in Israel for deepening Hebrew skills and comfort.

Courses offered include Models of Teaching; Theory and Practice; Neurodiversity; Jewish Day School Education; Teaching Jewish Texts; Human Development for Teachers; and Portfolio for Growth Final Project.

The academic year begins on August 1 with ulpan; Pardes classes run from September 1 – May 31; PEP programs continue through June; July is a vacation month. Vacations are offered for all Jewish and Israeli national holidays. Classes are conducted five days a week, Sunday through Thursday. All mornings are dedicated to Beit Midrash classes. All afternoons are dedicated to MA courses, pedagogic training, specialized seminars and Hebrew ulpan.

The Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education at Hebrew College in Boston, MA awards the Master of Jewish Education degree (MJEd) and a Certificate in Jewish Day School Education. The Pardes Institute awards a Certificate of Advanced Jewish Studies.

Applicants must have a BA with an above-average GPA, experience with Jewish text study and Hebrew language, and experience in teaching or experiential educational. Applicants are required to fill out a detailed application, write an essay about professional goals and direction, provide references, and have a personal interview. Separate application materials are required for Hebrew College. (Applicants do not have to be in Israel to apply and interview.)

If an applicant has a Masters degree in Jewish education or in a related field, they may not be required to participate in the MJEd component of PEP.

Each year, students go to North America to spend one month student teaching in a day school.

PEP students take rigorous pedagogy courses which include lesson planning and teaching components. Each PEP student is assigned a teaching coach, who provides one-on-one mentoring and advising.

Pardes tuition and Hebrew ulpan are fully subsidized by the AVI CHAI Foundation. The Hebrew College tuition is partially funded and loans are also available.

Yes. Educators receive a generous monthly stipend of $1,200 for two academic years.

No. Students find shared apartment arrangements through social networking.

Most students report that they are able to live comfortably without needing to find a job.

There are two cohorts in the program each year (first and second-year students). A PEP cohort has between 5-7 participants.

It would be a challenge to fully profile our students; Pardes’ commitment to diversity within its student body extends to PEP as well. Educators come from all denominations and range in age. All have a BA; approximately 20% come to the program with an advanced degree; almost all are U.S. citizens; all were involved in some form of Jewish education prior to applying to the program, either in Hebrew schools, Jewish camps, undergraduate studies or in Jewish day schools. All come with a tremendous motivation to achieve excellence in teaching and make an impact on the world of Jewish education.

The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators is comprised of the Pardes Day School Educators Program (as described above) and the Pardes Experiential Educators Program; participants of the two programs form a strong cohort of about 20 learners and colleagues each year. Beyond this, Pardes is a diverse Jewish community, welcoming men and women of different ages, backgrounds and affiliations to study together in the Pardes Beit Midrash. Many of the Beit Midrash classes integrate PEP participants and other Pardes students.

PEP graduates typically begin work as Jewish Studies teachers in Jewish day schools upon graduation. PEP does indeed help its graduates find jobs – the program offers workshops and individual coaching in developing job application materials (resumes and cover letters) and in interview techniques. Our considerable connections in the Jewish day school field enable us to help our students identify appropriate positions and succeed in finding jobs.

Upon graduating, PEP graduates are required to work as full-time Jewish Studies teachers in Jewish day schools in North America for a minimum of three years.

Yes! Our Pardes Educators Alumni Support Project offers individualized mentoring, school visits for novice teachers, and many professional development opportunities.