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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Mid-Terms, Mid-Terms, Mid-Terms!!!

Shalom Everyone!

Well, I thought last year flew by. I never had any idea how quickly this year would fly! We still haven't finished unpacking, and the semester is more than half way over. I am now experiencing what I call the "Mid-Semester meltdown." One of my personal promises when I first started at HUC was to try to stay as far ahead as I could. What I realized very quickly was I wouldn't be able to "stay ahead," but I would be able to prevent myself from falling behind. I worked two to three hours a night last year working on homework, and I was able to spend time with Carlie and Batya on Shabbat. This year, however, things are different...

I will say the classes are so incredibly intellectually stimulating. I am truly enjoying myself, and very much enjoying the learning. We have a lot of information to learn, and it seems that just as I am grasping something, five or ten more things come flying right at me. I am certainly not complaining...I love it, and have not once looked back. I will say doing this with a family is hard, but I wouldn't change it for the world. This year, I am spending more time at home, but less time with Batya and Carlie. I am thankful to have a wonderfully accepting wife who understands how important this is to me. And, she is really enjoying her new job, so at least she is finally doing something she enjoys!

Lastly, as the winter is coming upon us, and the temperatures are dropping, I know we are in for a winter nightmare. I will say, though, that unlike last year, at least we have a heating system that works in our house! So, as long as HUC turns on the heat in their building, and our classrooms start to get warmer, it won't be as bad of a winter as it was last year.

I will BLOG again after midterms are finished, I promise. For now, stay warm, and when you vote next week, make sure you make the decision that YOU feel is best for the country, not what someone else wants you to believe!

B'Shalom!

Friday, October 10, 2008

"Acting" the Part

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!