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PaRDeS: An Orchard of 21st Century Kaplanian Educational Resources | The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    Mordecai M. Kaplan (1881-1983) was one of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. We believe that his thought may be even more important in the 21st century.

    PaRDeS: An Orchard of 21st Century Kaplanian Educational Resources

    Kaplanian concepts are rich and sweet and juicy – much like effective education itself. On this page, we invite you to enter an orchard of select materials that are we think reflect and inspire a contemporary Kaplanian vision of Jewish education. Our use of the orchard metaphor is intentional. The Hebrew (Aramaic) word pardes, is derived from the same root as the English word paradise and literally means orchard. In rabbinic texts, pardes is understood to refer to גַּן עֵדֶן Gan Eden, the Garden of Eden, a sacred place to gather together to learn. Over the course of time, PaRDeS began to be used as an acronym for four distinct dimensions of Torah study that we now apply to all different texts in our quest to unearth the full richness of each resource. Below, we invite you to sample some tasty fruit that we associate with each level of PaRDeS. In addition to sharing these materials, we have invited rabbis and educators to continue to plant new seeds in our orchard by adding their own observations, reflections and questions about the materials. We invite you to expand the orchard by sharing your own thoughts as well.

    P’shat

    When rabbis or educators try to directly apply a Kaplanian idea. For example, structuring a curriculum in a civilizational way, layering one civilization upon the other as they trace the evolution of key Jewish ideas and practices; Another example would be explicitly teaching a non-supernatural understanding of God.

    Remez

    When a Kaplanian idea/value is buried beneath or totally and seamlessly integrated Jewish life and learning happens and reflects patterns and ideas that seem to have a strong Kaplanian source; the very fact that they are integrated into other conversations without specific identification reinforces the way in which these Kaplanian trope are simply part of the contemporary Jewish community, already modified by numerous other influences and part of the fabric of contemporary Jewish life. Whatever Kaplanian trace (remez) is present must be searched as it is so thoroughly part of a new fabric.

    D’rash

    When a core Kaplanian concept is made accessible through a concept or construct that carries the weight of realization of the value; consciously placed into a different design frame or wedded to other constructs in order to fully actualize the pedagogic power of the ideas…examples would be values based decision making, the values of spiritual peoplehood, and the Reconstructionist teaching model. Here the use of Kaplanian concepts is freer, more adaptive, and more interpretive than in the peshat framework

    Sod

    When any number of challenges of contemporary Jewish life (experiential learning, family education, civics education) benefit from a Kaplanian set of ideas streaming into an ongoing dialogue.

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    The Mordecai M. Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood

    1574 Ashland Avenue, Evanston, IL 60201
    Phone: 847-492-5200