Sunday night found me sitting on the floor outside my hotel room with my laptop, practicing the beginning of parashat Bo. The rabbi who led this morning's "Renewal davenen" (the two other shacharit options were "traditional" and "movement") had asked me to leyn a short Torah reading -- just one aliyah, the first verses of this week's Torah portion, in which Moses is commanded to go before Pharaoh (whose heart has been hardened) to instruct him to let God's people go.
I'd meant to practice in my room last night, but by the time I got there after the evening's session my room-mates were asleep. So I sat in the hallway, using Hebcal.com as my tikkun, and practiced my verses silently until I could look at the unvowelled, unpointed Hebrew text and fluently chant both the Hebrew and the English translation. As friends walked past, en route to their rooms, I got a lot of greetings and laughter. I had the feeling at the time that this would be one of those rabbinic school moments I'd remember for a long time to come: learning Torah on the floor of the hotel Boulderado at the start of 2008...
The minyan this morning was awesome. We've been blessed with some fantastic services so far (I come away from each one feeling blessed and connected -- and having learned something new about service leadership, every single time) and this morning's was one of my favorites. So many sweet melodies, good drumming, impromptu harmony! And then it came time for the Torah reading. I looked up at the faces of all those who'd come up to offer the Torah blessings -- friends, colleagues, teachers, wrapped in a rainbow of tallitot -- and just marveled at how amazing it is that I've found this community.
And then I chanted, and my voice carried the words of the parsha through the room. And the English chanting went as smoothly as did the Hebrew. And at the end I offered a spontaneous free-form blessing for those who'd come up, that they too might find themselves -- like Moses and Aaron -- able to speak truth to power, and to speak the truths people need to hear in order to become freed from narrow places. And then Reb Richard offered a blessing for me in my studies, which I hadn't expected and which was incredibly sweet.
And then I had breakfast with new friends (a rabbi from Hebrew college, a rabbi from Maine) and old (some of my DLTI chevre), and as I write this it's almost time for the morning's opening session. Me, I'm still flying high: from this incredible Shabbat, from this morning's service, from the privilege of chanting Torah before this awesome assembly.