Today was a good day. The end. Just kidding.
So during this year in Israel we have weekday services twice a week (and also some student initiated ones other days), so one requirement we have is to lead services once during the year. Well today was my day to lead. I signed up early because I wanted to get it out of the way and not have to worry about it later on.
Even though I feel pretty comfortable with the liturgy and being in front of people I was nervous before hand. I definitely put pressure on myself to be perfect and there is a lot to think about, between picking what prayers to do in certain ways and also remembering to do the weekday nusach (melody) for certain prayers, which can be hard sometimes because I feel more familiar with the shabbat nusach. I was worried about time, because (as I've mentioned) I like to do more Hebrew and as many of the traditional prayers as possible, which is a lot to fit into the time I had. Of course I also was concerned about how my classmates would react to it, I wanted to create a nice prayer environment incorporating everything I mentioned before.
I think it went well, it definitely wasn't perfect, but that will come with more experience. I got a lot of compliments from my classmates, so it couldn't have been too horrible haha. When I spoke with the Rabbi in charge of evaluating our services he said it went really well and his major critique was I need to learn how to better use my voice and be a stronger leader with it, aka voice lessons. So yeah I can dig.
Some thoughts on my experience: So one thing that really bothers me is when the service leader just sings solos all the time, I like to be able to pray along with everyone and participate, because if I'm there I might as well you know. So I definitely tried to create that, and I think I did successfully. The major difference praying as a leader for me was really having to be aware of what was happening in the congregation. I was constantly evaluating my speed, and on the individual prayers if people had finished or not, etc. I was also worrying about how they were feeling in general. Definitely different from my normal prayer experience which is very selfish (or just "me-centric") and it's about how I pray and how the congregation helps ME feel more spiritual or whatever.
While it was different in that I didn't have as much concentration on praying as I usually do I still felt like I prayed, and it was rewarding to help other people pray. Instead of an internal focus it was a more external focus. Maybe with more practice I can get to the point where I can do both, or maybe as a leader that is simply not what happens, I guess I will see...
What else...oh I had a delicious lunch at Grill Bar, this place of Ben Yehuda. The meat was delicious and they also had great salatim that came with the meal. A little side note on salatim, so salatim are basically little salad things but not really salads that are served many times before a meal. Some typical ones are tehina, some kind of cooked eggplant dish or two, pickles/olives, some kind of carrot or pickled carrot thing, beets. SOO good. I could literally (and have) made a meal out of these, and they are usually served with pita. Yeah this country knows how to do pita, it's fluffy and delicious, mmm. Ok enough about food.
So the other thing I did today was (finally) join a gym. I joined the ymca (pronounced yimka). I do enjoy exercise, and in college I worked out pretty frequently (well until last year), so it was nice to get some cardio in today. Also the machines have individual tvs which are fun especially since I don't have a tv here.
Tomorrow is another exciting day for me, I get to try out the Israeli talmud class. Ahh I'm nervous, I hope my modern hebrew is good enough to get through it. I can translate from hebrew/aramaic in the Talmud to english, so it will be interesting trying to translate into modern hebrew instead...We shall see.
I think that's it for now. Party on!