The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators by the Forward

Earn An American Masters Degree While Studying In Israel

The Pardes Center for Jewish Educators, located at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, provides the best of both worlds. One can live in Jerusalem and study in Pardes’ world-renowned Beit Midrash, while training as a Jewish educator AND earning a Masters degree from an acclaimed American institution.

Whether you are interested in becoming a Jewish studies teacher in a Jewish day school or an experiential educator – what used to be known as an informal educator – in a camp, synagogue, Hillel, JCC, Federation, and more, Pardes has the program for you. You can even study towards rabbinic ordination in the balance.

Become a teacher

PCJE’s flagship program is the Pardes Day School Educators Program, inaugurated nearly 20 years ago as a response to the dearth of suitably-trained Jewish studies teachers at the new “community day schools” that were springing up across North America. With more than 150 graduates working in Jewish day schools across the US and Canada, Pardes Day School Educators reach thousands of day school students, ages 7-18, every day.

Students participate in two years of intensive text study at Pardes while working towards a Master of Jewish Education degree from Hebrew College in Boston. Beit Midrash courses include Talmud, Bible, Jewish philosophy, and more. Students study both general pedagogy and content-specific pedagogy, such as how to teach Tanakh or rabbinic literature, and how to tackle tefilah (prayer) education and Israel education in a day school. Each student works with a teaching coach who helps them find their own distinctive teaching niche and voice.

“The Pardes Day School Educators Program was really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone like me,” says Laura Marder, who graduated from the program in 2014. “The passion that I cultivated along with the solid skills set me up for a lifetime of inspiring students to truly care about Judaism and personalize their relationships to our collective memory.” Marder, who teaches at the Hannah Senesh Community Day School in Brooklyn, has also served as a student teaching mentor for Pardes students.

The graduate courses on offer in the program are a combination of online and in-person classes in Jerusalem, which prepare students to become teachers in 21st-century Jewish studies classrooms. They also receive rigorous Hebrew language training at Ulpan Or.

Additionally, each year students travel to the US to do a month of student teaching at a Jewish day school. They are individually mentored and choose from a wide array of schools.

In the middle of the second year of the program, students are provided career coaching and job placement assistance. And the help doesn’t stop there! Alumni support for novice and more experienced teachers include individualized support and group professional development such as retreats and conferences.

After graduation, students are expected to teach in a Jewish day school for at least three years. For those, however, who are interested in becoming rabbis as well, Pardes has partnerships with several rabbinical schools – including those at Hebrew College, The Jewish Theological Seminary, Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat – allowing Pardes Day School Educators Program graduates to use their Pardes credit in order to place into advanced ordination studies. After ordination, they become rabbi-educators in day schools for at least three years.

The best experiential educators know more

In 2012, Pardes also opened a training program for experiential Jewish educators, as that field – which used to be known as informal education – expanded exponentially the world over. The goal of this one-year program, called the Pardes Experiential Educators Program, is to provide a vital extra layer of Jewish knowledge, so that professionals already in the field of experiential Jewish education can be really good at what they do.

Leah Kahn, formerly Senior Jewish Educator at UC Berkeley’s Hillel and now Director of Educational Development within The Center for Jewish and Israel Education and The Office of Innovation at Hillel International, shared, “College students are most likely to listen to an adult educator who is knowledgeable and passionate about the content of the Jewish canon, and the only way for me to have acquired this knowledge was to fully immerse myself in Jewish texts for an extended period of time.” Kahn graduated from Pardes in 2013.

Additionally, Pardes offers a joint graduate program with The William Davidson School of Education at The Jewish Theological Seminary in which students take online education courses while studying at Pardes, and then have just one more year of coursework in New York to finish their degree.

Such students can also take advantage of Pardes’ partnership with the JTS Rabbinical School, and use Pardes and Davidson towards the beginning of rabbinical studies. These experiential educators may also use Pardes credit at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah and Yeshivat Maharat.

Affordable studies

Incredibly, for the select group of individuals accepted to the Pardes Day School Educators Program and the Pardes Experiential Educators Program, tuition is completely subsidized, as are Ulpan studies. Moreover, students receive a monthly living stipend so that they can put their all into their studies.

For the degree component of their studies, tuition at both Hebrew College and JTS is highly subsidized.

For more information, contact Gail Kirschner at gail@pardes.org.il.

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Earn An American Masters Degree While Studying In Israel

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