Tuesday, November 29, 2011

updating fail...high holiday edition

Well Hello World,

I have been awful about updating. It's not because stuff hasn't been happening, a lot of things have happened that I want to share...I think I just get frustrated with trying to express them in this blog format. Talking is definitely my preferred way to share my experiences (which is probably why I write the way I talk). I have had a bunch of interesting/powerful experiences since the high holidays and during the high holidays, but the idea about writing all of them in blog format is exhausting. I know I'm being kind of a tease and I apologize.

Anyways it feels weird to talk about the high holidays now since they were almost 2 months ago, but I had to write the reflection piece about them for school so I thought I'd share. So here are some of my thoughts on the high holidays and leading them for the first time...

Since the High Holidays I have thought a lot about how I did, and my general feelings on the services I lead.  I know leading up to the high holidays I was super nervous. I prepared a lot, and I stressed a lot. I learned a lot of high holiday nusach (melodies) and spent a considerable amount of time working on sermons.
            Rosh hashana went ok. I was so nervous that it got in the way of me leading the service to some extent. I realized after Yom Kippur and leading everything then how important it was to be confident and composed (or at least appear that way) while leading.  The little things I didn’t do well, like make sure I was projecting and not trailing off at the end of my sentences so that people couldn’t hear them, made a big difference. I think what I will remember most about my Rosh hashana experience was that a woman had a seizure during my sermon. She ended up being fine, but it was a bit jarring.
            Yom Kippur was much better that Rosh hashana. I felt more comfortable leading and that helped me do a better job. One thing that I struggled with on Yom Kippur and whenever I lead services at my pulpit, is feeling spiritual or like I am praying. I had one fleeting moment of awe and spiritual connection over the course of Yom Kippur, which is usually filled with meaningful moments for me. This moment was right before I started to sing Kol Nidre. I had been practicing, but I was nervous because people put so much emotional value on this moment. I felt a bit in awe that I was the person who could lead this for them and enable them to have this moment. I also felt nervous hoping that my words would be accepted somewhere up where all the prayers go.
            For next year I have 2 major improvements or issues that I want to work on. The first is the melodies. I learned a lot of high holiday nusach, but then found it was a barrier to other people who wanted to participate because many of them did not know the nusach. For next year I would ideally like to have a workshop or something to teach some nusach so that more people could participate. What will probably happen because I don’t anticipate having enough time at my pulpit to do that would be to do less nusach. High holiday services are not about me showing off my knowledge of nusach and Hebrew, it’s about how the congregation experiences the services and how I can enrich that experience.
            The next improvement is from Yom Kippur services. In the afternoon/evening service I was running way ahead of schedule and I ended up having to flip back to the “additional prayers” section and do a lot of English reading. I thought it was super boring, and not very meaningful. What I would like to do for next year is do some kind of reflective text study. It would take up time, but not be as dry and boring as reading page after page of English readings.
            I would like to figure out other ways to make the service less dry. I think the Shabbat services I lead are dynamic and fun, but it is hard to do when people are unfamiliar with the liturgy and the tunes, which is the case during the high holidays. I am hoping that the new machzor (prayer book for the high holidays) might help a little.     
Yeah so those were my reflections. What a crazy time that was...I'm glad its over. Although I have had some other stressful experiences at my pulpit, life really knows how to keep things interesting. More on that soon :-)

No comments:

Post a Comment