Mrs. Jessie Rubenstein
What inspired you to become a teacher?
I was inspired to become a teacher by the amazing teachers I have had in my life. A good teacher enables students to explore who they are at their core in a safe and meaningful way. I was blessed to have such teachers, and they made me want to be that teacher. Seeing students make connections between the Jewish traditions and texts and themselves is a gift. It is my privilege to be able to play a role in helping to shape the Jewish identities of the future generation.
What makes teaching at Pardes special?
Teaching at Pardes is special for many reasons. The reason that springs to mind first, though, is the deep sense of community at Pardes. You can feel the genuine care that each person has for the other. I see this in interactions between my students, the ways teachers speak with their students, and the manner in which we as a staff care for one another. The students love being with each other, learning together, and even debating with one another. I also love the way Judaism is at the center of all we do. The values of the school are pervasive and influential. I love the small class sizes and how I can get to know my kids and they can get to know me. One of the particular joys of my role at Pardes is getting to be with my kids for multiple years. I get to see how the grow and develop over time, as people, as students, and as Jews.
What is a unique experience, talent, or interest that you bring to your classroom to help shape the learning experience of your students?
I am very interested with how our Jewish stories, and the questions we ask about them, shape us and our understanding of the world around us. There is a story told of a Nobel Laureate named Isidore Rabi who won the Nobel Prize in Physics. When asked why he decided to become a scientist, he said that his immigrant mother made him a scientist. When he would come home from school, she wouldn’t ask him “How was your day?” or “What did you learn today?” Rather, she asked, “Izzy, did you ask any good questions?”. The way we view the world should be through the lens of questions. In my view, asking a good question is more important than giving an answer; teaching to the questions allows students to expand their world-views, to become multi-dimensional thinkers, and to engage with the process of learning rather than the product.
Describe how students benefit from the academic classes and being part of the Pardes community.
Students feel ownership of their learning. They know that the environment where they come to school is one that will nurture their growth and encourage them to push themselves further. They feel supported, while at the same time they receive room to develop and experiment. Students aren’t just faces in the classroom to us. We as teachers treat them as individuals, and really get to know them.
What sets Pardes Jewish Day School students apart from other students?
The students are steeped in their Judaism- it influences how they interact with the world in a profound way. They treat one another with kavod (respect) and truly care about the well-being of their fellow students. The older kids care for the younger ones, and the younger kids admire the older ones. The students build relationships with one another that foster a sense of community across ages and grade levels.
When you aren’t teaching at Pardes, where can we find you?
I am a Legacy Heritage Fellow at Hebrew College, working on a dual Master’s degree in Jewish Studies and Jewish Education. In addition, I have a five year old daughter (who is now in Kindergarten at Pardes!) and a one year old son, so I spend a lot of time with them and my spouse. At home, I am usually found baking, painting, or playing with my children. I also have an almost-fanatical love of board and card games, and enjoy getting together with friends for game nights.