Last week I was in Texas: a whirlwind of professional obligations (involvement with two Shabbat services at two different shuls, and the reading with Reverend Mary Earle at Viva Books) and family time (seeing my parents and my brothers and my nieces, and eventually seeing the ganze mishpacha -- whole clan -- at a ranch in the hill country for the weekend.) Next week I'll be in California for the ALEPH Kallah -- the Jewish Renewal biennial -- which will be its own kind of wondrous whirlwind.
Two years ago at Kallah (see First full day at Kallah and Kallah: another day in the life) I was entering the second trimester of pregnancy, though I hadn't yet announced that news here on this blog. My friends and teachers marveled with me at my growing belly. I remember grabbing extra muffins and bananas every morning at breakfast and stashing them in my purse, knowing that by midmorning I would be ravenous and would need a snack. I studied the Baal Shem Tov with my friend and teacher R' Burt Jacobson; I took a class on eco-Judaism with my friend and teacher R' Arthur Waskow; I sang in cantor Linda Hirschhorn's pick-up choir.
This time around I have an eighteen-month-old -- who will not be with me; he had such a tough time navigating the two-hour time change for my ordination that I don't feel right subjecting him to the three-hour time change between here and the west coast. (Also, having just spent ten days away from home, he needs the comfort of his own crib and his own toys and his own routine.) Drew will enjoy a week with his dad and his paternal grandparents and his daycare buddies, and I will savor the chance to reconnect with rabbinic school friends and loved ones who I haven't seen since my ordination -- and other ALEPH friends who I haven't seen since the last Kallah.
There's part of me that can't quite imagine that I'm getting on a plane this coming Sunday. I just got home! The trip to Texas was wonderful but exhausting; I'm tired in all four worlds. I can't help wishing that Kallah were later in the summer so that I could spend a few weeks luxuriating in the cool mornings and verdant hills of Berkshire summer, and, yes, sleeping in my own bed and eating Ethan's glorious summer salads and reestablishing my own routine. (The toddler isn't the only one who gets attached to the familiar!)
But I also know that once I get to Redlands, I'll be completely elated to daven with my dear ones, to have intense conversations at mealtime about what we're learning, to experience again the combination of tradition and innovation which makes Jewish Renewal my spiritual home. The week may be physically tiring (I never want to miss an opportunity to lay tefillin and sing b'tzibbur, in community, even if I'm a little short on sleep) but I know it will be spiritually energizing... and since I'll be coming home to some new adventures here (about which more anon), the spiritual boost of the Kallah experience is coming at exactly the right time.
I'll do my best to share some glimpses of the Kallah here -- and if anyone reading this is going to be there, drop me a comment and let me know.