Three years ago today, I was ordained as a rabbi.
Now, in just over a month, my first position as an ordained rabbi is coming to an end. In the next few weeks I will attempt to capture in words the depth of gratitude I feel for The Community Synagogue, whom I’ve been privileged to serve these recent years. But for now, I want to share some of the lessons I’m taking away from these initial years of my rabbinate, some of the things I would tell myself three years ago:
- Shabbat comes back again next week.
- When someone asks for something unusual, a good question to ponder before responding is: What would it take for me to get to “yes”? You may not actually say yes, but at least you will have clarified what is really at stake.
- Supportive partners, both professional and personal, are everything.
- Unetaneh Tokef takes on a new meaning when you look out on your congregation and know who has died (and often by what cause) in the past year. Also when there’s a global pandemic.
- Most people are willing to try something new most of the time, as long as they like the person extending the invitation.
- Always start with attentive listening.
- Someone is always being left out. Look out for them, in specific contexts and in general.
- When you move from Ohio to New York, you have to get used to interrupting people if you ever want to participate in a conversation.
- Working in a synagogue is a lot like working at camp: The work you do really matters, and it’s also wise not to take yourself too seriously.
- You never really know the impact you’re having on others. Sometimes they tell you. That’s really nice.
I also want to wish a big mazal tov to the rabbinic and cantorial classes of 2020. I hope you get to take your in-person group pictures sometime soon, and I wish you much joy and fulfillment in your new roles.