In July 2016, I took five days out of my life to take an intensive dive back into Jewish texts, at Pardes's Executive Learning Seminar. In anticipation of beginning an important communal leadership role, I felt the need to prepare myself both mentally and spiritually and gave myself the cherished gift of Torah Lishma - Torah study for its own sake, to set the tone and re-energize me for my leadership journey.
1. Learning from everyone
I was not disappointed. From the very first class, I was learning every second of the day. Not only from the amazing teachers, but also from the bright and motivated participants - other communal lay leaders, professionals and executives from across the world. Each bringing their own voice and experience to the table. Each feeling like I did – we only have five days to soak in as much as we can.
2. Learning on location
It does not get better than walking to and from class, learning and living in Jerusalem. There was something truly magical about studying ancient texts in Israel and seeing them come to life right there and then. But we weren't only studying the old masters; Biblical and Talmudic texts were weaved in with modern Jewish philosophy. We understood that our tradition does not stand still and each and every one of us is tasked with the continuation of the Jewish story.
But knowledge is power, and vibrant, contemporary and sustainable Jewish life must be rooted in Jewish texts. Through developing an even deeper relationship with our texts during the seminar, I was reminded how to authentically be a part of – and lead – conversations about what it means to be a Jew in the 21st century.
4. Lifelong learning
I look back at the seminar not only reflecting on what I learned but how to learn, why learn and the value of continuous education. In an age where there is so much emphasis on output and results, personal development can be lost by the wayside. However, a lifelong commitment to learning is essential in bringing ongoing relevance and meaning to our personal, professional and communal lives.
5. Ripple effect
Finally, my passion and purpose has had a rippling effect on all those I encounter every day since. Countless times, I refer to things I learned during those five precious days and the personal development I gained by learning side-by-side with those from all different backgrounds. I have been privileged to have this experience and in turn have developed a new perspective of major issues facing the Jewish world. I am changed for the better. Thank you, Pardes for a life enhancing and changing experience!
Linda A. Hurwitz (PELS 2016) is the Chair of the Board of The Associated and the immediate past National Campaign chair of The Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA).
For more information and to book your spot on the next Pardes Executive Learning Seminar, click here.
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