Flowers and celebration
On living documents

Para-rabbinic adventures

Leading services yesterday went really well! I tried one experimental Renewal thing: during the birchot hashachar (morning blessings) I invited people to join me in chanting the first few words in Hebrew (Baruch atah, Adonai, eloheynu melech ha'olam) and then to individually sing out, in Hebrew or English, whatever they felt thankful for. To my great pleasure, everyone participated, and a few people seemed particularly moved by it. I'm definitely doing that again next week.

Jeff had counseled me to "make mistakes; learn from them; rejoice in them." Sure enough, I followed his advice; I started a few things in keys that were difficult for folks, and made some minor errors in the choreography of the Torah service. But reading from Torah was seriously fun, and the Torah discussion was fruitful (we had an interesting conversation about why Joshua was chosen to take Moses' place, and what it means that he is an ish asher ruach, a man-in-whom-there-is-spirit).

For the first two aliyot, I did what our congregation usually does, e.g. I cited something which happens in that Torah passage and invited anyone who connected with that theme to come up to say the blessings before and after the Torah reading and to receive a related blessing. For the third aliyah, I asked the other two Torah readers to join me in saying the before-and-after blessings, so I had the pleasure of blessing the three of us after the Torah reading was over. That felt good.

I found out during the oneg (celebration after services were over) that one of our Torah readers had never actually touched a Torah before; I wish I'd known during the service, as I would have said a shehecheyanu! At least she got a blessing.

After kiddush, three people came up to me and asked whether I'd ever thought about becoming a rabbi. (They seemed pleased to hear that my answer is yes.) Someone else overheard and chimed in with, "She doesn't need to! She's already a rabbi!" Which is totally not true (I'm very aware of how much I don't know) but was meant as a compliment, so I took it as one. One elderly gentleman asked whether I had a yeshiva education, which I also took as a compliment. And he joked that Jeff's job is in jeopardy: again, untrue, but very sweet.

I left shul feeling light and joyful, and had liturgical tunes in my head the rest of the day.