So yesterday (thursday) was the last full day of orientation. Orientation was definitely really packed with information, and I'm glad it's over. Yes, there were interesting programs and interesting things to think about, but I got a little overloaded by the end.
One word we used A LOT was reflection. Throughout orientation and the rest of our rabbinical school process we need to reflect about what we are learning and what we are feeling. I definitely agree, but whoa I am reflected out right now. This is definitely more touchy feely than JTS, but I guess I should have expected that.
I think my biggest issue was they were asking us to reflect on the whole Israel process when we haven't been in Israel for that long. One whole day was based on the topic "why did you bring us here?"(echoing the Israelite's complaint to Moses in Numbers). So we had a bunch of speakers saying why it's important, some in a more roundabout way than others. For me it was frustrating because I know it's important for me to be here, but I can't say exactly why because I don't know what I'm going to get out of this year. I will definitely take away a lot, and I already have been wrestling with issues that I wouldn't have to wrestle with if I wasn't in Jerusalem, but still I don't know what this year will bring. I will make the most of it, and then at the end ask me what I got out of it, don't ask me now.
Yesterday the theme was Jewish peoplehood (woot Kaplan), and for part of the day we went on a trip around Jerusalem to various sites. Interestingly enough, we went to two church grounds because they had AMAZING views of Jerusalem. I am kicking myself for not bringing a camera, but this is just encouragement for you to come and see the beauty for yourself. We spoke about the land of Israel and the diaspora, and what responsibilities we, as diaspora leaders have towards the Jewish community in Israel. Also, Rabbi Naamah Kelman said something interesting in her talk, she said that not only is it our responsibility to stay connected with the people in Israel and their narrative, but it's also important for the Jews in Israel to stay connected and acknowledge the thriving Jewish communities out in the diaspora. It needs to work both ways. Great point!
I would like to share one other text that one of our group leaders, Rabbi David Wilfond, used in context of talking about the temple mount/ the holy of holies. He told us this story from the Talmud (tractate berachot 7 or so). So some background, when the temple was still standing the only person who could go into the holy of holies, the holiest place in the temple/the world, was the high priest and he could only go in once a year, on Yom Kippur. So since no one else could go in they would tie a rope around the priest's leg just in case he died in there so they could pull him out without entering the holy of holies.
So as the story goes the high priest went into the holy of holies on yom kippur. What the priest is supposed to do in there is pronounce the true name of God (which no one knows how to say anymore but it is referred to as the tetragrammaton). So the priest goes in and about an hour later the people are getting nervous because usually it doesn't take that long, so the pull the rope, but the high priest pulls back, so they continue to wait. Another hour passes, and the people are wondering what he is doing in there, so they pull on the rope, and again the high priest pulls back. SO the people continue to wait, and then 5 hours later the high priest comes out, he looks pale and exhausted. The other priests who had been waiting ask the high priest "what happened??" He answers, "I saw God praying." (powerful image right there). They ask him what he was praying about and the high priest replies: "God was praying that when he judges his children that is attribute (midah) of mercy (rachum) outweights his attribute of harsh judgement (din).
I really like that image, Think about it...
Last night was fun, I went out in Jerusalem with a bunch of my classmates. Also a recent-ish development in Israel is that they now have happy hour woo. I feel like I've said this already, but I am really impressed with my future colleagues. We can go from having intense and intelligent discussions about religion and reform Judaism to just having fun and being people as well as future Jewish leaders.
So I should get going because I have to go to the shuk (machaneh yehuda) and get some fruits and other stuff before shabbat starts. mmmm white peaches.
Class starts on Sunday. I'm excited to learn Hebrew again, I really do love the language, so we will see how that goes.
Again Comments and questions are welcomed :-) It is nice to hear from you! Also my internet is now working (b"h haha) so I will be more available to skype/chat if you so desire.