When a Promo Video Isn’t a Promo Video

Screenshot: “Text Comes Alive at Pardes”

By Louise Szczerb

It’s recruitment season and as part of our usual bag of tricks we’ve released a new video. **Spoiler alert** It doesn’t list our program offerings, it doesn’t tell you how great our faculty are and it doesn’t have any students or alumni saying how transformational their experience was.

A total departure from our more traditional recruitment videos, this video offers real content. It brings to life a passage of Talmud (moed katan 16b) through a dynamic havruta (paired study) between two Pardes students. In the piece, they continue the ancient talmudic debate about whether Torah study should be confined to the walls of the beit midrash (study hall) or whether we can or should take it out into the streets, to the “shuk.”

The video is longer than usual (almost three minutes) and is entirely Jewish educational content, referencing several text sources. It requires concentration and thoughtful deliberation. We asked viewers to continue the conversation on social media and weigh in with their own opinions. Does Torah belong equally in both domains? What tensions exist between them? How do they complement each other?

The results have been astounding.

In the first five days on Facebook, we have had an organic reach of 73,297, with 20,282 views, 7,539 clicks on the post, 1,806 reactions, 282 comments and 176 shares. The number of new likes to our Facebook page is up 257%. And our website views are up 30%.

And why do I think the response has been so astounding? Because we simply showcased what we do best: Teaching living texts in the city of Jerusalem. This resonated enough with our students, alumni, teachers and wider circles to spark a outpouring of likes, comments and shares. The special effects by Ori Salzberg helped too. Moreover, our call to action wasn’t another sales pitch. We didn’t ask alumni to recommend us to their friends. They were simply reminded of what makes Pardes so special and spurred into action.

So when looking for your organization’s next big idea, maybe just take a mirror and take inspiration from what your organization does best.

Louise Szczerb is Director of Communications at Pardes.