Shalom friends and family!
Throughout my first year in Rabbinical school in Israel, a lot of my classmates expressed frustration with not being able to use what we learned. I certainly agreed with them. We learned a tremendous amount last year, but there wasn't a lot of practicality to what we learned, and a lot of us wanted more opportunities to "act out" what we were learning. That is one of the great changes for this year. Once a month, I travel to Trenton, Michigan to Beth Isaac Congregation and lead them in Shabbat prayer. I arrive around 3 in the afternoon, get myself prepared for services...then off to the Synagogue I go. This congregation is so incredibly gracious and accepting...and they have already accepted Batya, Carlie and me as part of their family.
THIS IS WHAT I WAS WAITING FOR!
Finally, I get to lead a congregation and learn as I go. And, the best thing this congregation offers me is understanding. When I make mistakes (and I've already had my fair share) they accept me with open arms, and we learn together. On Shabbat afternoon, I lead the congregation (usually 10-15 people) in an Adult Education class. We've had one Torah Study, and one discussion about Minhagim (customs) within Judaism, traditional and Reform Jewish customs. I love this little slice of heaven!
I prepared myself for the High Holy Days by writing sermons, draft after draft...studying Torah portions, writing outlines including the English and Hebrew readings I wanted to have in the service. I met with the Ritual committee from Beth Isaac and went over my outlines with them. They put the ball in my court and said "run with it." This relieved so much of my stress...and the High Holy Days became an opportunity to lead, grow and learn. Instead of stressing about not making mistakes, I was able to focus on praying and reflecting on the things I needed to change about myself. What an awesome opportunity.
I am pretty satisfied with my sermons...and if anyone would like copies of my sermons, please shoot me an email and I would be happy to share them with you. For the first time in my life, I was COMPLETELY exhausted after Yom Kippur, but the family we were staying with - Carlie and Batya were able to come with me to Trenton for the HHD - had a hot tub...so it was great last night to sit in the hot tub, have a drink and relax. It was truly an amazing day, and I look forward to continued growth with this congregation.
Beth Isaac Congregation truly is a wonderful place! They are incredibly accepting, and I highly recommend that if you are ever in the area, you should check them out! I hope everyone has a joyful and sweet Shabbat and Sukkot next week. I'll try to blog a bit more frequently now.
B'Shalom for now!