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.


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