Sunday, September 25, 2011

something to remember

Well Hello again...

Look at me writing a blog entry within a week of the last one...

Anyways I had a little piece of inspiration/direction i wanted to share with you...

So to set the scene: I just got back from these community selichot services. These happen at night after shabbat ends, during the shabbat before the high holidays. You say sorry, you ask God to forgive you/answer you, and some other stuff (I'm not a selichot expert). The program I went to was super cool it was a combined effort of four different communities, 2 synagogues and 2 minyans. They got together and there were various learning sessions, before a very musical and beautiful selichot. I am impressed at how the Los Angeles Jewish (or at least Conservative Jewish) community is able to get together.

Ok so to the point: I was introduced to this rabbi, I'm pretty sure her name is Shawna, but I can't remember her last name (but she's fabulous). I had been told about her before, because apparently according to multiple people, we look a lot alike. I could kind of see the resemblance, I could be a family member...So we were talking and I was saying something dumb about being nervous about my high holiday pulpit. And she dropped some serious wisdom that I am going to try and repeat to the best of my memory:

She said that the role of the rabbi during the high holiday season can best be described by the word "devek" (glue, something that binds). It is your job to help bind the community together in this prayer experience, this is not about you, this is not the Becca show. It doesn't matter how your voice sounds, or how brilliantly you speak, that's not the point. It is about how you connect your community together and to the words they are saying. You are not the Torah, it is your job to connect them to the Torah. You are not God, it is your job to connect them to God, etc. You are serving the community, you need to be the glue.

It sounded more brilliant when she actually said it. But I am grateful for her reality check. I have found it very easy to forget this idea, it is easy to make it all about you as a rabbi. How did I do? Did I sound good? Did I say something smart? Me me me. As this rabbi helped me to remember, that's not the point. That's not my job. My job is to help the community have a meaningful experience and connect them to their Judaism. It's not about how smart I can sound when I give my sermon, but instead how can I connect people to the holiday through my sermon. Rabbi as glue. I  like it. It's definitely something I will be thinking about as I leave to lead my first Rosh hashana services. (ahhh)

Shana tova!!! May you have a meaningful high holidays whether you are acting as a prayer leader, or a prayer.


Monday, September 19, 2011

now that I live in L.A...

Hey world,

So I haven't been good at this whole updating thing, but I'm back for now.

So gosh, a lot has happened in the past two months since I last wrote here. I drove across country with my dad, which was pretty fun. I have to say the USA really has some interesting and beautiful places. I really enjoyed Utah where we hiked arches national park and bryce canyon. I highly recommend them. It was cool to drive across the US and get to see lots of new things. Why did I drive? Because I moved to Los Angeles to continue rabbinical school. wooo.

So yeah I've been living in L.A for about a month and a half now. I really like it so far. The one thing I HATE is driving here. It's super scary. Seriously. If you've ever been in the car with me driving here you will see how it affects me. Other than that, I am loving it. The weather rocks!! The beach is super close. Lots of friendly people. Also lots of kosher restaurants and a great Jewish community. I've been really impressed. Woo Cali.

So the past month I've been in school, year 2 of this whole thing. It's been pretty good so far. We have some Jewish studies classes and also some professional development type classes like homiletics and education. My expience thus far has been positive. I really enjoy my mishnah class that I am taking with a few classmates, we are studying ketubot. more on that later, maybe :-)

So the other big thing is that this year I have a student pulpit, meaning that once a month I fly out to a small Jewish community in Arizona and I act as their rabbi for the weekend. So last weekend was the first time I visited, it was super exhausting, but really great. I lead services, I gave a short d'var (sermon kinda), I led a torah study, havdallah, visited a congregant in a nursing home and helped teach Sunday school. whoa. The community was really friendly and welcoming, and I'm excited for this year to build a relationship with the congregation. I am currently really stressing because the next time I go, in a week and a half (ahhhhhhhhh) is for rosh hashana, and I'm nervous to lead those services. ahh. ahhhhhh. Which maybe is why I'm procrastinating and writing this blog...(although I have done all my hw for tomorrow so there).

Yeah so life is good. My friend came to visit this past weekend so we did some touristy stuff like hike up to the hollywood sign, or well as close as you can get to it. I got kinda burnt, oops. We also went to venice beach...awesome people watching.

So yeah that's about it for now...Just a short update.

Good night!