And with that, my first rabbinical intensive has ended. I’m at the airport and am slowly reentering the rest of my life. I haven’t touched work email in over week. I ignored personal business emails for over a week too. Last Friday I was at Kesem spending time with children I’ve known for eight years. This past Friday I was at Shabbat dinner with another community, newer to me, but also precious. It’s hard to find the words for what this week meant to me. So I’m going to start with what I learned, and see where it takes me.
1. I am not alone. I am supported by an incredible community of fellow students, travelers, and seekers, who share my values and who are not afraid to have hard and important conversations. They are invested in my journey, and I am invested in theirs.
2. “We will build this world from love.” I felt fantastic potential in the people around me this week. We are going to change the world, and we are going to do it together with caring communities from all faith, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds.
3. My fellow seekers are extraordinarily talented. I am humbled in the presence of people who come to this space with so much knowledge and experience, and who are still open to continue learning along with me.
4. “Make for yourself a teacher, acquire for yourself a friend.” I am blessed with phenomenal teachers and mentors. So many inspiring educators and role models in this program!
5. Skills! I learned a new way of teaching Torah this week and I can’t wait to try it out in Hillel. I also learned a new way of engaging big feelings about painful issues, and I’m looking forward to using it in my own life, as well as in conversations I facilitate with others.
6. I am ready to learn how to build an inspiring prayer experience. I was so moved by the beautiful shacharit, mincha, and maariv services this week (morning, afternoon, evening). The voices rising together, the power of our dancing, the joy and pain, wonder and stillness – such glorious elevation. The Saturday morning Torah service pulled me out of my life and into the story in a way that I’d never experienced before, and will never forget. Just like I won’t forget the power of the healing service my friends led for one of our fellow seekers on Tuesday night. What we summoned, created, and experienced was bigger than each of us alone.
7. I am way better at dealing with conference FOMO than I used to be. I skipped several mincha prayer services and went to bed earlier than some of the others – and I have no regrets. It was the right choice, each time. This used to be really hard for me, so I’m proud of myself for moving beyond my need to be everywhere at all times.
8. I learned that I can be present and at peace during a very busy week. I had no idea that some part of me knows how to stay calm, without getting swept up into the madness of what’s happening next and what’s happening after that. My re-entry goal is to learn how to bring these feelings of peace, wholeness, and connection along with me, even when my inbox is exploding and urgency is tugging at my sleeve. I will be more effective if I’m approaching tasks from the contemplative, authentic, and playful energy I felt within and around me this week. I felt it even though most of our days started at 6:30am, included six hours of classes and many more hours of discussion, and continued until midnight. I’ve proven to myself that I can do it now. I’m going to remember that for my next intensive, and for the work week ahead of me.
With that kavanah (intention) in mind, I am going to head off now to check work email and to get the inbox in some kind of order before tomorrow. More reflections are coming later, I’m sure – and in the meantime, I am so grateful. I didn’t know how much I needed this, I am thrilled to be part of this community, and I am grateful to work for an organization that supports my participation in continued growth and learning. Sending hugs to all of you as we continue to build this world from love