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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Ability to see the "Big Picture"

Shalom Everyone!

I am writing from my hotel room in Trenton, Michigan. This hotel has become a sort of second home as I will have spent roughly 20 nights here by the end of May. I have truly enjoyed working with Beth Isaac congregation, and although I will not miss the snow, I will miss this congregation when I move to a bi-weekly congregation next year. I have learned quite a lot working with this congregation, and I am thankful for that.

One of my closest friends, a rabbi in Atlanta, Georgia, Rabbi Bradley Levenberg, has been a great support these last couple of years. When I have been frustrated with the way things were or were not happening, he has often been there with a comforting word or hug to give me perspective and help remind me why I am on this journey to begin with. During our last year in Atlanta, before we moved to Israel, I remember something Brad told me. He suggested that there would be a point during my time at HUC where I would hit "rock bottom," and build myself back up to become the kind of rabbi he knew I was capable of being.

Truth is - I am not sure I believed him when he said it. After all, this has been a life dream of mine for many, many years. However, I totally understand now what he meant. This semester, as I have had less "homework," I have had more time to sit and reflect upon who I am, who I want to be, and what I need to accomplish to be that person, that kind of rabbi I know I am capable of being. I have also been able to think about what kind of rabbinate I want to have...and more importantly what I stand for. It is very hard to be a 32 (almost 33) year old rabbinical student with many classmates much younger than me. It is even harder to try and focus on all of the MANY things I need to focus on when the most important thing(s) are not even at HUC. Staying focused on Batya and Carlie has been hard, and I know I have made mistakes...but thank God I have a wonderfully forgiving wife who has helped me to grow and learn as this year has progressed.

So, there it is - I recognize that the most important thing is trying to stay on top of my schoolwork while being the best husband and Aba I can be. Thankfully, Carlie loves me no matter what...and I often wonder how Batya is so forgiving and wonderful. I only regret that my mother didn't have the opportunity to get to know Batya like I do. They may have been good friends...God knows these are the ONLY two women who really knew how to "put up with me." But, I digress! The important thing is that as I move forward in this HUC world, I am recognizing I have one of the greatest support teams ever, and I am working harder and harder to spend more time with them...

Oh, one other thing. Batya, Carlie and I joined the JCC back in July, 2008. I now have begun to utilize the gym. I am on a strict 3 day a week workout...30 minutes on a stationary bike, and about 13 other machines, working on every muscle in my arms, legs, and back. I hope to lose about 25 pounds and get back in the shape I should be. The workout is great because it truly enables me to work out some of the daily stress I find myself stressed out about.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Sunday, and a great week!


Friday, March 6, 2009

"Back in the Saddle Again..."

Shalom Ya'll!

It seems only too appropriate that I am blogging once again from Dumas, Arkansas. I posted my last post as I was celebrating being once again surrounded by Southern Jewry. And now, back to the South I go, once again to join the Meir Chayim Congregation in McGehee, Arkansas for Shabbat. Truly, truly, it is a blessing to be able to journey to these small congregations and learn from these Jews who are so appreciative of our visits. I have learned many things this year...but one of the most important lessons is that while I may be able to teach to these congregations, they have just as much if not more to teach me. I am learning every day with every visit!

Batya and Carlie are continuing to do great! Although Batya has been a little under the weather this week, she is getting excited that we may be beginning to see the end of winter. The temps for the past couple of days have been in the 60's, which of course may not be so warm for us southerners, but it's a whole lot better than the 30's! Cincinnati seems to be a much happier and prettier place when it's warm.

On Thursday, I finished one of the most time consuming and stressful tests I have ever taken. It was History 402 - about 400 years of Jewish history in an hour and fifteen minute test. I think I passed, or at least I hope I passed. As the second half of the semester is beginning, I am getting excited for another amazing opportunity this summer. I am going to be the Judaics Director at JCC Camp Livingston in Indiana. This is the summer camp that serves the Cincinnati and Indianapolis Jewish communities. It will be a great experience...and my co-madricha (counselor) from the Birthright trip I led will be the Aquatics Director. It will be lots of fun to work with her again.

Well, that's all for now. I have to finish up some work before I begin to get ready for tonight's services. I hope everyone has a great Shabbat and weekend...and I'll get another blog up in a couple of weeks.

Ahh....Chag Purim Sameach!!!