By Rabbi Leon A. Morris
The past several months have been unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. Much of the routine of our lives has been upended. At the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, though, we have been working to transcend the cold uncertainty of these times with the warm embrace of Torah study that brings together multiple perspectives and builds community. Our commitment to uninterrupted Torah study is grounded in our hopes for rebirth, rebuilding and redemption.
Driven by this spirit, I am proud to announce that the Pardes Institute plans to be open for learning this fall and will offer every single student accepted to Pardes’s 2020-21 Year/Semester Program a tuition scholarship ranging from 50%-100% off tuition, along with a generous additional monthly living stipend ranging from $50-$500.
This initiative was developed as a response to the complicated financial situations that many prospective students are encountering due to Covid-19, which are further exacerbated by the deteriorating job market, furloughs, layoffs and changes to post-graduate academic programs.
These generous tuition packages will provide an unanticipated opportunity for professionals, especially those on a Jewish career path, to refocus their professional goals and enhance their future job prospects through a year of personal and professional growth. These scholarships will also allow those who were already planning to spend a year at Pardes to do so at a more manageable cost when their personal resources may have been diminished.
Such a decision comes at a significant cost to Pardes, but we believe the cost to the Jewish people is far greater if seats in our Beit Midrash (study hall) go unoccupied. Pardes alumni consistently become leaders of the most important Jewish institutions, star teachers in the best day schools, founders of innovative Jewish startups and influential lay leaders in their home communities, all across the spectrum of denominational Jewish life.
Leadership, though, is not just the responsibility of our alumni. It is also our responsibility as an organization. For this reason, I am tremendously proud to be working alongside Pardes’s board, funders, faculty and staff, all of whom are rallying quickly and enthusiastically to put this initiative in place. Collectively we are saying, “Kadima! Let’s keep going full-steam ahead despite the many obstacles we face.”
While most of us remain confined to our homes, uncertain of what is to come, Pardes maintains as committed as ever to pursuing our vision of Jewish life: a future where all Jews are passionately engaged in the serious study of classical Jewish texts for their relevance to global challenges, for their capacity to unify our diverse Jewish community, for their power to help us find our true self, or sufficiently, for their own sake.
Rabbi Leon A. Morris is the President of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.