1. When were you at Hadar?
I was at Hadar for the Summer of 2012 as well as for the year of 2012-2013.
2. Where are you now (physically)?
Right now, I am sitting on my couch in my studio apartment in Nachlaot, the infamously eccentric neighborhood located next to the Shuk in Yerushaliyim Ir HaKodesh! (I'm in Jerusalem, Israel)
3. What are you up to now?
I am finishing up my first year in the Pardes Educators Program, a two year program that takes place at Mechon Pardes, a Beit Midrash in Jerusalem. I am earning a masters degree from Hebrew College in Jewish Education and learning at the Beit Midrash year 'round!
4. How have Torah and mitzot changed your life (post Hadar)?
Hadar gave me the tools, skills and spiritual prep to take on mitzvot in a meaningful and empowered way. Since Hadar, I've dared to take on more mitzvot because I feel empowered to dig into sources and search for the meaning within them. Embarking on the journey of learning Gemara has enabled me to find a deep kavod for the dialogue between the Sages, which allows me to view Halakha as a system that is not only respectable, but crucial to the Jewish experience. The amount of integrity I am able to see within the system, within the conversations of the Gemara and within the practice of mitzvot is completely due to the possibilities Hadar opened up for me. I am now studying to be a Jewish educator, which means I will spend my life practicing the sacred act of Jewish teaching/learning. I have found a way to channel my love for Torah, my respect for Halakha and my creative juices in order to help others feel the same way. Nothing could be sweeter.
5. If you could describe your experience at Hadar in one word what would it be (feel free to elaborate beyond a single word)?
Colorful. (those that studied with me will get this, those that didn't I bless you to find the colorful parts of your learning experience both in hindsight and present!)
6. Is there a time this past year when Hadar specifically came to mind?
I feel as though I carry the experience of learning at Hadar with me whenever I engage in Jewish texts, which is how I'm spending most of my time. I will give two examples, though, of how Hadar has come to mind. At Pardes, where I learn now, there are two minyanim that meet - one egalitarian, and one mehitza service. Standing between these two doors, I immediately went for the egalitarian one, not only because I believe in this style of davening but also because if I don't make a choice to participate in egalitarian services, who should I expect will? I felt a deep sense of obligation (in a positive way!) to commit to the egal service, regardless of its size and popularity. Also, I had the amazing privilege of being in the same Beit Midrash as Avital Hochstein and Rav Aviva Richman all year, as they learned in the Pardes Kollel on Sundays. Seeing them in the Beit Midrash gave me an overwhelming sense of familiarity and love that made the seas between the US and Israel feel that much smaller.