Sarah’s Israel Experience: Pardes & Makloket Matters Project

When I learned of the opportunity to study at Pardes for 3 weeks in Israel last summer, I jumped at the chance. 3 weeks in Israel? I’m there! Jewish learning? I’m there! Learning with other Jewish pros? Amazing! I didn’t even look up what the word “Mahloket” meant before I arrived at the first class of the Makloket Matters fellowship. I came to learn it means disagreement. Honestly, I was worried. Having conversations with people I disagree with is something that is hard for me. How much could Judaism possibly have to say about disagreement?

When thinking of a classic example of arguing in Judaism, Hillel and Shammai easily come to mind. Before this class, when I thought of Hillel and Shammai, I thought of 2 Torah scholars who argue about everything under the sun. I was blown away with what I learned. Did you know that Hillel and Shammai’s kids married each other? Did you know they shared many meals together? I didn’t. I just assumed they were enemies/rivals and didn’t have a relationship outside of studying. But I think their relationship outside of studying says a lot about the importance of disagreeing. They disagreed, but for the sake of bettering the Jewish people. They disagreed, but for the sake of understanding the Torah. While they may be a classic example of 2 people who always argued, they are also the classic example of the type of disagreeing that is allowed/encouraged in Judaism. 

When I think of Rabbi Hillel and Hillel the organization being named after him, I won’t just regard him as the “winner” against Shammi. There’s something more important we can learn from him than how to win, and it might just be the answer to how/why/if to disagree with people. This is the biggest lesson I took away from the Makloket Matters Fellowship!

Being a part of this fellowship made me a better leader, Hillel professional, JLF teacher, and person. Coming back to campus, I was so excited to bring this new knowledge to our student leaders! Throughout our leadership sessions with the Freshconnect fellows, I included pieces of the MM curriculum to help students think deeper, get to know each other, and incorporate Jewish learning! We talked about Hillel and Shammai’s relationship, Makloket le shem shmyiam and lo le shem shemyiam, 49/49, and more! And I’m excited about our month of “uncommon connections” in our programming at Hillel this March! We have over 20 student groups under the umbrella of Hillel and frequently, students don’t interact with each other from different groups. The “uncommon connections” program will bring together students from different clubs to collaborate, plan events together & build community together! 

“It was interesting learning about what Hillel & Shammai could teach us about being better student leaders!” – Tali (2025) 

“Uncommon connections are a great way to build community within Hillel. While we all have our Jewish identities in common, it’s important to look beyond the surface and find other ways in which we are similar. For example, last week’s event with Innovation:Africa (an organization that uses Israeli technology to bring clean water to African villages) brought two Israel clubs and a sustainability club together. It was so powerful to bring people with different passions together towards one common goal.” – Greta (2025)

During the MM fellowship, I gained confidence as a Jewish leader, a group of friends and co-workers I could have real conversations with, and memories to last a lifetime! As I continue to think about how we disagree in our world, what Judaism says is important, and how to engage with disagreements in my personal life, I will continue to use what I learned at Pardes!