Posted in , on May 30, 2013

Trading the UCLA Bruins for the Boston Bruins

Growing up in Los Angeles, David Pardo was just a regular high school student attending public school. While attending the North Hollywood High School’s Highly Gifted Magnet program, David participated in a few local Jewish youth group programs including the Jewish Student Union at his high school. However, it wasn’t until his junior year of high school that David would have his first interaction with NCSY.


During Pardo’s junior year, Rabbi Steven Burg, the NCSY Director of Los Angeles at the time, started getting involved with a few JSU clubs in the area, including the club that David attended. David soon found himself participating in JSU events and meetings at the NCSY regional office. At one of the JSU meetings, he was approached by an NCSYer and asked if he would join them on the upcoming Spring Regional Shabbaton. It was the final Shabbaton of the year and ended up being a huge turning point for David in his life.


A spark lit up within him that Shabbat. That spark motivated him to begin wearing his kippah every day. This challenging yet inspiring action continued throughout the school year and ultimately became permanent. In North Hollywood High School wearing a kippa was the farthest thing from “standard”. He was the only one of 5,000 students to be doing this. That year, his senior year of high school, NCSY played a crucial role in his life. He went from Shabbaton to Shabbaton and grabbed on to the incredible learning programs offered. When Spring Regional came around, David was asked to speak during ebbing, which for many became the most inspiring part of Shabbos. Till this day, David looks back on that moment as, “a very memorable event”.


The journey had only just begun for David. Taking everything he had gained from NCSY, he attended UCLA in the fall where he got heavily involved with the Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus (JLIC). Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, then in his first year on campus, began to establish a close knit relationship with David. Through his guidance, David continued on the path of Torah growth. Little did David know Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan would eventually become his Mesader Kiddushin.


The impact JLIC had on David was tremendous. The program gave him the opportunity to learn Torah on regular basis, become the gabbai and a ba’al tefillah. These are not experiences that the “standard” secular college student has. David became an integral part of Jewish life on campus. He went from gaining to giving and helped make the Jewish community on campus all that it became. He never forgot that first spark from his first NCSY Shabbaton, advising non-stop throughout college and even staffing a chapter in his senior year. He became a leader and source of inspiration for so many just like others had done for him. Without even realizing it, a chain reaction had been created.


The summer before his final quarter at UCLA, David chose to staff NCSY Kollel, a popular and intense NCSY summer learning program in Israel . Due to the lack of Internet at NCSY Kollel, David was unable to register for his classes at UCLA on time. Because of this, he was left with the worst possible classes offered that quarter. At the time a frustration, this became a blessing in disguise. It was in one of those awful classes that he met the love of his life, Ariel.

After graduating UCLA, David had to make a decision. Pursuing a life of Semicha, doing all the Jewish communal work he truly loved as a profession, or pursuing a life of finance, the original plan. So he headed off for New York, and after spending one year learning at Yeshiva University in Washington Heights and three additional years in RIETS Israel Kollel on the Gruss Campus, David became a rabbi. He moved with his family to Toronto to work for The House, an organization that does educational engagement and Jewish programming for young adults.


One year later David received a surprising email from the Director of JLIC, Rabbi Ilan Haber, asking if he would be interested in applying that year. When he and his wife interviewed for the position at Brandeis, they hit it off with the students immediately. “We just loved it…the students, the campus. We felt there were incredible things waiting to be done here.” Rabbi David Pardo and his wife Ariel will be moving to Brandeis this upcoming fall to take the JLIC position on campus. Rabbi Pardo is extremely excited about his new role and has shared several of his starting goals. He looks forward to forging meaningful relationships with students on campus. He hopes to build a “powerhouse community” by enabling student leadership to create a model Jewish community. David’s inspiring story teaches us that sometimes life may not go in the direction we had planned for it to but it may just turn out better than we ever thought possible.


If you would like to get in contact with Rabbi Pardo feel free to email him at