Benjamin Heligman

Year '10-'11, Fellows '11-'12

“I have been studying at Pardes for almost two years now. I am not in the Educators Program or the Year Program – I am in the life program. I want to share why I will never leave Pardes, why Pardes students glow when you ask them about their time there, why I am getting emotional just writing this. It is because Pardes is an environment that celebrates your truest, best, most intimate self. I have been given the most precious gift these past two years and I know it will always inform me. I have been encouraged to go on a journey of discovery – to challenge my image in an attempt to find my most authentic self. And what is so unique and exquisite about this time is that your classmates, every Pardes student, has also decided to take a whole year of their life – putting aside work, friends, family, city, state, and country – to go on a journey. And at Pardes our journeys are different and this is celebrated. With genuine curiosity we learn from each other day after day. Like a vine, we twist and turn and grow together. I have never been in a community like it and it’s intoxicating. It is fresh, creative, and genuine. It is this environment that gave me permission to find God in my life. This is the truest Torah at Pardes, this is their “avodat Hashem”, and this is why I am eternally thankful.”

“Today I am feeling gratitude for our desire to help others. This afternoon a small group of Pardes students and I began volunteering with the Yaakov Maimon project, which supports new Ethiopian immigrants. Once a week we will spend two hours as role models, friends and climbing toys for the Ethiopian kids at the Mevasseret Zion absorption center. I volunteered with the project last year as well, and I found it to be a space for my best self to come out.”

Benjamin Heligman, New Rochelle, NY
SUNY- Binghamton; Major: Accounting