For those of you who have ever seen me, you know you will always find a Red and Black kippah on my head. As a graduate of the University of Georgia, I often wear the colors red and black – after all, they are my favorite colors. I purchased this kippah in Jerusalem in 2007, and I have worn it ever since (Yes – I have washed it many, many times!).
During the summer between my 3rd and 4th year of rabbinical school, one of my classmates challenged me by asking me the following question, “Erin, do you wear your kippah all the time when you visit people in the hospital?” My answer was that I wore my kippah when I visited Jewish patients. Her response surprised me, “Do you not feel authentic when you pray with non-Jewish patients?”
I really had to give some thought as to why I wear my kippah. I spent the next few days giving this a lot of thought. I decided the reason I wore my kippah was because I always wanted to be reminded that no matter how good of a person I was, no matter how good of a life I tried to live, I would never reach Godliness. My kippah is a reminder of humility – or so I thought.
I have always been the person that spoke his mind…not always realizing the consequences until it was too late. My mom used to tell me, “Don’t speak before you think about what you are going to say first!” I remember hating being told that. And, when this continued to be a theme in my life, I finally realized (probably sometime after graduating from UGA) that all of those who had once told me to think before I speak were right. I tried…I really tried to change my behavior. I have continued to try to change this behavior for so many years.
Once again, my mom’s words come to the forefront. I can hear the words being spoken to me as if my mom was saying them, “Erin, do not get mad when people confront you. Let the red in your kippah be the only red they see – not the redness of anger in your face. Remember, Erin, you need to understand first…and then respond.”
No truer words could be spoken right now. My goal in the coming year and in future years is to be that person – the one who really listens and understands.
I am a rabbi because I want to help others. I am a rabbi because I love the Jewish people. I am a rabbi because I want to teach and learn from others about being Jewish. I am a rabbi because I truly do love waking up in the morning and being given the opportunity to do all of the above. I love being one of the rabbis at Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta, Georgia.
However, sometimes, and this is one of those times, I need your help. I want to be a better rabbi…and I want my congregants to be a part of that – actually the biggest part. If I can better serve you as your rabbi, please tell me. Come talk to me, call me, reach out – I really want to know. When you think of Erin Boxt, don’t just think of the Red Kippah. I want you to think of Erin Boxt as your rabbi - one who loves you, the Jewish people and the opportunity to be better, to do better.