A visit to ‘Pardes’

Off the back of the last post, I thought I’d take a closer look at the Pardes Institute.


First, you can see the previous post here:

Modern Orthodox or ‘Frum-Reform’?

Then, this is part of the exchange I started to have with one of the commentators off the bottom of that post, where I got told:

Neither Y. Smith nor Pardes identify as Orthodox. The Independent (UK paper) referred to Smith as “ex-Orthodox” and Smith’s own definition of “Authentic Jewish Learning” has nothing about committment to tradition or halacha, the שלשה עשר עיקרים or even God for that matter.

If you read Pardes’ mission statement, you won’t find anything Orthodox there.

Neither Pardes nor Smith make any pretense of identifying as Orthodox- whether modern or “open”.


I went back to say this:

It’s interesting when this ‘ex-orthodoxy’ occurred.

This comes from Pardes history page:

“The institute, which he gave the name Pardes—suggestive of the mystery, multifacetedness, and fruitfulness of Torah—opened its doors in the fall of 1972 with a student body of 25.

Among the original teachers were Adin Steinsaltz, David Hartman, and Eliezer Schweid, with teaching assistants who included Menahem Froman and Dov Berkovits. (Click here for a full description of the original faculty). Swirsky directed the Institute in 1972 and 1973 and Berkovits from then until 1977 (See video below). Rabbi Levi Lauer directed Pardes from 1977 to 1994 and Rabbi Danny Landes assumed the position in 1995.


Last I heard, Adin Steinsaltz was ‘orthodox’.

Here’s a snippet about David Hartmann, another founding faculty member from Wikipedia:

“David Hartman…attended Yeshiva Chaim Berlin and the Lubavitch Yeshiva, after which he spent time learning in Lakewood Yeshiva. In 1953, having studied under Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, he received his rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University in New York.”

Sounds pretty ‘orthodox’ to me..

Here’s the Wiki snippet on Menachem Froman:

“Rabbi Menachem Froman was an Israeli Orthodox rabbi, and a peacemaker and negotiator with close ties to Palestinian religious leaders. A founding member of Gush Emunim, he served as the chief rabbi of Tekoa in the West Bank.”


My commentator came back with this:

Some of the faculty [of Pardes] may be Orthodox, but the institution isn’t.

I find it a bit of a strain to consider Hartman in the years after Lakewood & YU, Orthodox.

Hartman is on the record that he was willing to marry a כהן to a גיורת. The flexibility he sought in halacha went beyond finding leniencies that are already part of legitimate halachic process. We’re not talking about a mistaken approach to halacha in which leniencies are applied inappropriately. We’re talking about discarding halacha on philosophic grounds, not on mistaken halachic grounds.

Off the record, I’ve heard that Hartman told a couple that they could ignore a certain הלכה (which modesty prevents me from specifying) based on their “feelings”.

So no, Hartman wasn’t Orthodox.


Before we dive back in to who and what is really funding Pardes – and other institutions pushing the same sort of ‘ortho-fem’ / LGBT123-whatever agenda in the orthodox world – let’s try to unpick exactly what is going on here, as encapsulated by this email exchange.

Practically speaking, tachlis, OF COURSE people like David Hartmann aren’t ‘orthodox’.

Practically speaking, they are FRUM-REFORM.

That is how these people – and their institutions – continue to insinuate all their Reform / Conservative tumah into the orthodox world, by pretending like ‘orthodox people who really fear God also think like this’.

When clearly, they don’t.


A huge, blinking, red flag about who is really God-fearing in all this (aside from the obvious stuff, like not pushing radical ‘trans’ agendas and faculty members and writers, and ‘ortho-fem rabbas’ down their communities’ throats) is the interfaith stuff.

I’m in the process of unpicking just how ‘pagan’ xtianity really and truly is, but let’s be clear that any ‘orthodox rabbi’ who is happily peddling all the interfaith stuff is FRUM-REFORM, however ‘orthodox’ they may externally pretend to be.

We’ll probably return to this topic in another post, but for now, let’s get back to PARDES, because after the exchange above, I went to find out more about it’s original faculty, and how people like me could have got the idea that the institution is connected to orthodox Judaism.


On the History page of PARDES HERE, they actually link to a full description of the people who made up the original faculty, back in 1972.

Here are some screenshots:

As I scrolled through the list, I was struck by just how many of these original ‘Pardes’ people either had semicha from Yeshiva University, or had learned there, and again the explicit links with the Soloveitchik family.

I was also struck by the links to the Mercaz HaRav yeshiva and Bnei Akiva movements that propound the philosophy of Rav Kook, the revered founder of the ‘Dati Leumi’ school of thought in the State of Israel.

And then, there was the connection to Lubavitch, too, in a couple of places, but not least, in the person of R’ Adin Steinsaltz.

Nearly all of the faculty were ‘orthodox rabbis’ with semicha from orthodox yeshivas – and this was back in 1972, when not so many people had semicha, still.




You can read more about Adin Steinsaltz on Wikipedia, HERE.

What struck me – apart from the passage that I’ll bring below – was just how many honors and rewards Steinsaltz recieved from the State of Israel for his work.

That is always, ALWAYS, another huge red flag that something is not quite right here, because Sabbatean-Frankists who hate the Torah typically don’t go out of their way to honor and financially reward genuinely God-fearing orthodox rabbis.

That’s just the way it is.


Publication of the Steinsaltz Hebrew translation of the Talmud in the 1960s received endorsements from prominent rabbis including Moshe Feinstein and Ovadia Yosef.

However, in 1989, when the English version appeared, Steinsaltz faced a fierce backlash from many leading rabbis in Israel such as Elazar ShachYosef Shalom EliashivEliezer WaldenbergNissim KarelitzChaim Pinchas Scheinberg and Shmuel Wosner who harshly condemned his work and other publications.

Branding him a heretic, Shach was at the forefront of a campaign which banned all his works, believing that his literary and psychological explanations of biblical characters and events rendered them heretical. He also slated his translation of the Talmud, describing it as being written in the style of a secular book causing “any trace of holiness and faith to vanish.”

Waldenberg wrote that he was shocked to see the way in which Steinsaltz described the Patriarchs and Talmudic sages, writing that the works had the power to “poison the souls” of those who read them….

For his part, Steinsaltz countered that much of the criticism he faced was rooted in opposition to the Chabad-Lubavitch community he was affiliated with.


So, we have to ask the hard question:

Were the people involved with PARDES ‘FRUM REFORM’ right from the start, and part of a wider agenda to ‘poison orthodox Judaism’ the same way Moses Mendelsson operated to poison the Jewish community 250 years earlier?

Or did the organisation genuinely start of ‘orthodox’, and then slide ever more into the abyss of ‘FRUM REFORM’-ness?

Let’s see if we can figure this out, a little more.


Back on the PARDES website, I started poking around a little more, to see if there was any more info on when PARDES went full-throttle into ‘FRUM-REFORM’ mode.

I got to HERE, where I learnt this about it’s current president,

Rabbi Leon Morris is the President of Pardes….

Ordained from Hebrew Union College in 1997 where he was a Wexner Graduate Fellow, he has worked extensively with the Jewish community of India, beginning in 1990 when he served as a Jewish Service Corps volunteer for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. 


Ah, Les Wexner, Jeffrey Epstein’s best friend, and funder of kollels at Yeshiva University.

How could we forget about him?

On another page HERE, I discovered that the Chair of the PARDES board in Israel, Morlie Levin, is also linked to Wexner, snippet:

Morlie was the CEO of NEXT, the alumni division of the Birthright Israel Foundation, and before that served as the National Executive Director of Hadassah…..She was a Wexner Heritage Fellow, a founding Board member of the Jewish People Policy Institute, and a former member of the boards of the Jewish Women’s Archive and the Jewish New Teacher Project.


In case you think that link to Wexner is an accident, I went to the PARDES fundraising page HERE, and learned this, about the organisation:


512 ‘ordained rabbis across denominations’ – presumably including orthodox! EEK!!!

More than 400 teachers and heads of Jewish day schools – presumably including some orthodox ones?!?!? EEK!

And take a look at the red box, where we learn that no less than 151 people associated with PARDES are ‘Wexner Graduate Fellows’, and a further 180 are ‘Dorot Fellows’.


I didn’t know what a ‘Dorot Fellow’ was, so I found their website HERE, and then found what I was really after on the ‘influencewatch.org’ website HERE.



The Dorot Foundation’s highest-profile program is its Dorot Fellowship Initiative.

The program funds 12 annual fellowships for American Jews to live and study in Israel. It is operated in conjunction with the left-wing New Israel Fund, but claims it accepts fellows from a wide range of political beliefs.


Here’s some other ‘Dorot Fellows’ you might have heard of:

  • Jodi KantorNew York Times editor, correspondent on the 2008 Obama campaign, and author of The Obamas. Kantor shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for her story with Megan Twohey that reported sexual harassment and abuse allegations against producer Harvey Weinstein, which is credited with helping launch the “#MeToo” movement.
  • Eric J. Stern: Former co-chair of Obama Pride and National LGBT Leadership Council for Obama 2008 campaign and former director of LGBT Outreach for the Democratic National Committee.
  • Bari Weiss, former opinion page staff editor and writer at the New York Times.


Here’s another snippet about the Dorot Foundation, that you may find interesting:

Left-of-Center Jewish Grantmaking


The Dorot Foundation actively supports left-wing organizations involved in Israeli politics and policy. It largely supports groups espousing a “two-state” solution, and it does not support groups active in the “Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” movement. Its grant recipients include:


These are the people helping to fund and shape places like PARDES, with is 400+ teachers and headteachers in Jewish day schools, and it’s 512 ‘rabbis’, across all denominations.

And now, they are trying to raise $36 million to build a new, massive campus in Talpiot, to infiltrate even more of their tumah into the Jewish world, and brainwash even more ‘educators’ – and our children – with their anti-Torah, destructive, immoral values.

And all the while banging the drum about what a great beit hamidrash they’ve got, and what amazing ‘Torah learning’ is going on there.



Seriously, no-one without an agenda is going to be funding places like PARDES.

And I wonder if all those ‘orthodox Jews’ who work for PARDES, and who learn at PARDES actually even know about PARDES tight links with Reform-pushing anti-Torah organisations like Dorot and the Wexner Foundation?

Because if they did, surely they’d leave in their droves….?


Let’s just finish up by taking a look at another ‘orthodox’ institution in Jerusalem that is pushing ortho-fem poisonous ideas, big-time.

I am talking about MATAN.

Once I realised that all these places, all these people, are connected behind the scenes, in myriad ways, I decided to take another look at MATAN.

First, here’s a snippet from their ABOUT page HERE:

Matan has been at the cutting edge of Torah learning for women since it was established in 1988….

Matan is changing the conversation in Israel about women and Judaism.  We are empowering our students with the knowledge, tools and the self-confidence to become teachers, spiritual guides, leaders, role models and change agents in Jewish communities throughout Israel.

Matan has an open and nuanced approach to Torah studies. 


All the same weasel words we’ve sadly got so used to seeing.

So, who gave MATAN it’s biggest financial push?

None other than IRA RENNERT – the guy I wrote a whole long megillah around on the old blog, about how he was funding YESHIVA UNIVERSITY and the NETIV ARYEH yeshiva in the Old City, which has a lot of weird links to a lot of influential people.

Here’s the screenshot from MATAN:


In case you didn’t know, junk bond king Ira Rennert was one of ‘Milken’s Monsters’, and even today, he is still embroiled in a whole bunch of stuff that frankly stinks.

Here’s a snippet from his Wikipedia page – and then let’s circle back around, to see how this all connects to the ‘ortho-fems’ and MATAN.

Rennert is married to Ingeborg Hanna Rennert, a former airline ticket agent who is a convert to Judaism. She serves as the Director of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Inc….

Rennert and his wife Ingeborg have made many charitable donations to various organizations.

They donated $5 million to establish the Wiesel Center at Boston University and $250,000 to the Lincoln Center. They also gave over $1 million to the World Trade Center Memorial and established the Rennert Entrepreneurial Institute of Sy Syms School of Business at Yeshiva University

 They also established the Ira Leon Rennert Professor of Entrepreneurial Finance at New York University and founded the Ingeborg Rennert Center for Jerusalem Studies at Bar-Ilan University.


The Rennerts also helped to fund the construction of The Western Wall Heritage Foundation in Jerusalem (the visitor’s center is called The Ingeborg and Ira Leon Rennert Hall of Light).

Rennert’s wife and children are named as the donors of The Jonas Mendel (Yonah Menachem Ben Mendel) Rennert Memorial Chapel at the Center for Jewish History. The Rennerts are known to have donated to Rabbi Aharon Bina‘s new yeshiva in Israel, Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh, and are additionally honored with a plaque as well as their family upon entrance into the building. They also donated hundreds of Torah scrolls to communities in Israel…


Can you guess who founded MATAN?

Aharon Bina’s wife, “Rabbanit Malke Bina.”

Snippet from Wikipedia:

After meeting her husband, Rabbi Aharon Bina and moving to America, Bina completed a Masters program in Bible and History at Revel at Yeshiva University in 1972….

Bina is on the Advisory Council of JOFA, the Jewish Orthodox Feminist Alliance, a grassroots non-profit organization established in 1997 to educate and advocate for women’s increased participation in Orthodox Jewish life and to create a community for women and men dedicated to such change….


If you go to the Wayback machine HERE, you’ll find a whole interview that Malke Bina did for the JOFA newsletter, back in 2006.

Here’s a screenshot:


And if you go HERE, to the Frumfollies website, you’ll find a series of articles about some very serious moral issues at the Netiv Aryeh yeshiva.

(And there’s also a specific website about the abuse that was happening at that yeshiva, HERE.)

In the comments section of the Frum Follies website HERE, you find a link to this enlightening article:

Epstein, Wexner, and Our Communal Reckoning with Dirty Money

That ‘communal reckoning’ got paused when Epstein was ‘suicided’ a few weeks after his arrest back in July 2019.

But something tells me, it’s coming around again.

The article in question focuses in on a co-ed ‘yeshiva’ in NYC that was run by more Wexner fellows, and that got more Wexner cash – like PARDES and Yeshiva U, called ‘Mechon Hadar’.

Read this, for more information:

How is Mechon Hadar different than the Pardes Institute?


So, massive hashgacha pratis once again at work here.

The current story on the blog I linked to above on Epstein and Wexner’s dirty money is THIS:


You can read that statement HERE– and understand more of what’s going on HERE – if you really feel the need.

Long story short – the ortho fem Empress has no clothes!

I’m eagerly waiting for the statement from MATAN’s Malke Bina, decrying the terrible atmosphere of bullying and sexual harassment that has engulfed JOFA over the last few years – that has been knowingly and deliberately covered up.

(Something tells me, I’ll be waiting a very long time….)


All these organisations taking the ‘dirty money’ of Wexner, and the rest of the Sabbatean-Frankists intent on ‘shattering orthodoxy’ from within…

They all talk a good game about morals and equality and ‘Torah lishma’ – but really?

They are just massive hypocrites.

They aren’t pushing for ‘equality’ and ‘women’s rights’, what they are pushing for is anything their Sabbatean-Frankist paymasters tell them to push for, in order to introduce more tumah into our homes, schools and communities.

And it’s time we stood up for ourselves and our families, and told them that.



I got sent one of the posters for that Women’s Daf Yomi Siyum, from January 2020, that was organised by something called Hadran – click to get to their website.

Hadran is founded by one ‘Rabbanit Michelle Farber‘ (and you can see more of their ortho-fem movers and shakers HERE – there’s a lot of overlap with Pardes and MATAN. Of course.)

Michelle Farber has her own Wikipedia page HERE, where you learn that:

Farber co-founded Hadran, an organization to promote Talmud study by women.

She is married to Rabbi Seth Farber, founder and director of the Jewish life advocacy organization, ITIM


Seth Farber runs another Frankist-funded Trojan Horse in the orthodox community, called ITIM.

Here’s a snippet from the Wikipedia page:

ITIM has been active in advocating the reform of Israeli laws governing conversion to Judaism.

In Israel, the Orthodox Rabbinate controls the recognition of conversions of Judaism; the Rabbinate does not recognize the validity of Conservative or Reform conversions, and in some cases has also refused to accept Orthodox conversions made by rabbis abroad.

ITIM has also challenged practices of the Chief Rabbinate in adding individuals to a marriage blacklist, which would “prevent them, their children and their maternal relatives from ever marrying in Israel.


If you go to ITIM’s ‘Supporters’ page HERE, you’ll find the usual mix of anti-Torah, Reform-pushing ‘Jewish Federations’ and donors, including many we’ve covered here already on the blog like the Russell Berrie Foundation; Avi Chai, and Charles and Lynn Schusterman, to name but a few:


The ‘shattering orthodoxy’ from within continues apace!

ITIM is at the forefront of the battle over conversions in Israel.

Yet again, we see ‘FRUM REFORM’ people being presented as ‘modern orthodox’, to persuade the rest of us that ‘orthodox people really do have these opinions too, you know….)

When they don’t at all.

What a massive CO-IN-CID-ENCE that Seth Farber’s wife is the one that founded Hadran, to make more inroads for these Reform-funded, pseudo-ortho-fems.

Hopefully, you are really starting to see how all this works, and who is really funding all these ortho-fems and ‘moderate modern orthodox’ people who are challenging Torah and halachot at the coal face.

And we should all flee from these organisations, and their anti-Torah agenda, like a bowshot.


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5 replies
  1. JR
    JR says:

    “What struck me – apart from the passage that I’ll bring below – was just how many honors and rewards Steinsaltz recieved from the State of Israel for his work.

    That is always, ALWAYS, another huge red flag that something is not quite right here, because Sabbatean-Frankists who hate the Torah typically don’t go out of their way to honor and financially reward genuinely God-fearing orthodox rabbis.”

    The Israel Prize has been awarded many many times to “genuinely God-fearing orthodox rabbis”. Many of them are bona fide גדולים, some of them גדולי הדור:
    Here’s a partial list: Yehezkel Abramsky, Isaac Herzog, Yehuda Leib Maimon, Shlomo Yosef Zevin, Shlomo Goren, Menachem Kasher, Yitzchak Arieli, Ovadya Hadaya, Moshe Yechiel Epstein, Yosef Kapach, Ovadia Yosef, Eliezer Waldenberg, Menachem Elon, Zerach Warhaftig, Shaul Yisraeli, Chaim Dovd HaLevi, Mordechai Breuer, Avraham Steinberg, Chaim Druckman & Ahron Lichtenstein.
    Also Israel Prize recipients: Nechama Leibowitz, Avraham Frankel & Yeshivat Hesder.

    Maybe the State of Israel is not as anti-Torah as you claim. Unless of course, being faithful to the מסורה that includes the ש”ך, the ט”ז, the מגלה עמוקות and the פני יהושע is a problem.

    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      Thanks for taking the time to send me this list of Israel Prize recipients. I am going through them, and learning some more very interesting things that I wouldn’t have known without your input.

  2. Todd Genger
    Todd Genger says:

    It is clear you are passionate and care deeply about Orthodoxy, and argue strongly for its integrity against internal as well as external challenges, but I think it is important to recognize that internal challenges to religious Judaism are deeply rooted in our history.

    What is, or is not Orthodox, changes with time. Hassidim was a serious threat to the Orthodoxy of 18th century Eastern Europe and the movement and its proponents were rejected by many leading “traditional” Rabbis with a vehemence that bears remarkable similarities to your own criticisms. Within Orthodoxy today, and two millennia ago, there have been serious ruptures and fractures that challenge the notion of any uniformity of purpose or practice. There are certain fundamentals that have tied our people to our tradition for millennia, and though there may be differences in practice and observance may vary, it does not threaten Judaism. How weak must Orthodoxy be if its very “survival” is dependent on eliminating or defaming the people and institutions that challenge it rather than asking the far more difficult questions about why traditional Orthodoxy failed to effectively engage these individuals within its own ideological framework. In light of the many serious threats that impact the Jewish future, creating a more open and inviting space for Jewish women, homosexuals, and interested, intermarried Jews within a traditional foundation of study, learning and communal prayer would seem to me to be the best possible solution to meet these challenges. We are a strong a resilient people with a proud tradition and a very diverse population. My hope and prayer is that you may be able to see the beauty of that complexity, and how it enriches, rather than diminishes observant Judaism.

    • Rivka Levy
      Rivka Levy says:

      Thanks for the thoughtful tone of the comment, I appreciate it.

      The problem is, I believe the Torah and the Oral Torah was given over to Moshe Rabbenu, by God, at Mount Sinai.

      And while the oral Torah is flexible, within some very wide strictures, how that flexibility is applied to real circumstances has to be decided by people who totally believe in the Torah as coming from God – i.e. not just ‘written by an inspired man with some nice ideas’ – and who are genuinely God-fearing in their personal lives, too, and try to keep God’s commandments to the best of their ability.

      If you trace the trajectory of where ‘Reform’ came from, you’ll find it rooted in a small bunch of families who are Frankist, through and through.

      Sabbateans, and later Frankists, don’t believe in the primacy of the Torah, don’t believe in keeping mitzvot, and also have an agenda to ‘uproot the Torah’ and its mitzvot.

      So, any tradition that is built on that Sabbatean-Frankist-Reform-Conservative-‘Modern Orthodox’ basis cannot lead Judaism, nor the Jewish people to a good outcome.

      Who are we, to think we know better than God?

      (That is, assuming we even believe in Him in the first place….)


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