One of the things that's been keeping me busy during this last semester of rabbinic school is working with my colleagues to plan our smicha ceremony. Back in January of 2006 I witnessed my first smicha. It's pretty amazing to reread what I wrote then, knowing now that the next ALEPH smicha ceremony will have my dear friends and me at its heart. Each year the ceremony is slightly different, because each year the smicha class makes choices about how they want their service to flow. There are certain elements which are always present, of course, but there are also things which change from year to year.
My class -- a group of ten in total -- is planning some additions and innovations which I think and hope will be really sweet. Plus, of course, we'll be doing all of the pieces which we've come to cherish over the years we've been attending ALEPH ordinations. Anyway: the ten of us have been meeting via conference call every couple of weeks. It feels a little bit like trying to jointly plan a wedding with nine other partners! But it's holy work, and even when we're disagreeing about one idea or another, the conversations are a lot of fun. Somehow I wound up in charge of the "Who we are" speech and also the printed program (I think I must have volunteered?) so those have been keeping me busy. And I've started to work on my d'var Torah for the smicha ceremony, which will take the form of Torah poems rather than prose.
Meanwhile, I've been trying to keep up with my medieval history reading (and beginning to think about my two final papers for that class, both due on 12/1) and with the reading for my feminist exegesis class (this week I'm reading Ilana Pardes on the book of Ruth.) Fortunately, my parashat hashavua as a mirror for spiritual development class doesn't have a heavy reading load -- though I'm doing my best to stay on top of that too, and this week I have to write a short d'var to offer in class next week. Later this morning I'll meet again with my spiritual direction group (three people who have gathered for group spiritual direction; we'll meet together throughout the coming year) and will continue doing my best to learn on-the-job how to keep our conversation flowing and holy while also respecting the silences which sometimes need to arise.
Beyond that, I'm trying to juggle life and friends and marriage and baby -- and to write one poem each week -- and behind the scenes I've been working on a creative project about which I'm ridiculously excited; more news on that coming soon, I hope. (No, not another baby. The one we've got is plenty, thanks.) Yesterday I turned in the epilogue to my spiritual autobiography -- each applicant to the ALEPH program is required to write a spiritual autobiography, and as we prepare to exit, we're asked to write an addendum or epilogue, something which brings the story of our spiritual lives up to date. Writing that epilogue drove home for me just how much my spiritual life has changed since the summer of 2005.
It's hard to believe sometimes that this is my last semester of school. I have loved this program more than words can express, and yet I find that I feel ready to be done and to see what it's like to enter the next chapter of my life, whatever that may hold. Of course that doesn't mean I'm finished learning; I'm not sure one is ever finished learning, especially in Judaism! But I'm beginning to feel ready to be done with school. Because I'm in the hashpa'ah (spiritual direction) training program, I'll have a few more classes to complete in the year after my rabbinic ordination; once I've finished those, and finished the practica involved with that program, I'll be ordained as a spiritual director in 2012. But rabbinic school qua rabbinic school will end two months from today, on January 9. Pretty wild to contemplate. What an amazing journey this has been.