The History of Pardes


When The Solel School opened its doors in 1993, it was a dream come true for Temple Solel’s then Director of Education, the visionary Bonnie Morris, now Rabbi Bonnie Sharfman.  With the help of Rabbi Maynard Bell, Rabbi Sharfman created the first Reform Jewish day school in Arizona.  She had two objectives in mind: to provide students with an outstanding academic education and to produce a community of caring, literate, committed Jews.

The first kindergarten class had twelve students, and The Solel School grew by one grade per year. As the school flourished, Temple Chai in Phoenix, Temple Emanuel in Tempe, Temple Kol Ami in Scottsdale, and Temple Beth Israel in Scottsdale joined Temple Solel in a partnership dedicated to providing leadership and support. The Solel School was renamed Pardes Jewish Day School, which means orchard in Hebrew and is also an acronym for Progressive Association of Reform Day Schools.

Under the direction of Tobee Waxenberg, Pardes Jewish Day School opened its Middle School on the campus of Temple Kol Ami in 2002.  Jill Kessler became Head of School in 2003, and in 2004 the Lower and Middle schools were united on the campus of Congregation Beth Israel.  In the summer of 2006, after 13 years of growth on three different campuses, Pardes Jewish Day School purchased its own campus on Paradise Lane in Phoenix.

With time, the school’s leadership foresaw the perfect opportunity to both deepen its roots in the community and expand the population it serves by relocating to the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus. The mission was to create greater accessibility for young families while expanding resources and opportunities for Pardes students.

In 2014, after selling the Paradise Lane campus and a highly successful $3 million dollar capital campaign,  Pardes relocated to its current home on the Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus in Scottsdale. In our first year here, the Pardes community witnessed the creation of a beautifully renovated and expanded campus. Pardes Jewish Day School has continued to evolve as a thriving, nationally renowned and accredited Kindergarten through Eighth Grade Jewish day school.

Peter Gordon assumed the reins as Pardes’ Head of School in the summer of 2017.  Under his leadership the school is living its mission as a Future Ready, 21st Century Learning institution dedicated to preparing students to become leaders in an ever evolving global and technological world.   

Families from diverse Jewish backgrounds continue to chose Pardes for its academic excellence and its commitment to Jewish values. Students of all abilities develop strong roots in the school’s warm, nurturing environment and have a deep love for this very special community.