Places to study
Tachanun: prayers of penitence

Rites of passage

On Tuesday I reached a major milestone: I mailed my application to become part of the ALEPH rabbinic smicha (ordination) program. The application has been in-progress since I met the dean, Rabbi Marcia Prager, at Pesach; back then I promised myself that I would submit all of the official paperwork by the end of August, and I made my self-imposed deadline!

I handed the big, thick envelope to the postal worker, paid the Express Mail fees, said a shehecheyanu, and went directly to a congregant's home; her father had passed away and Jeff is on vacation, so pastoral care and the funeral were my responsibility. I couldn't help finding meaning in the confluence of events -- it seemed like the Universe was saying, "You want to be a rabbi? Okay: start growing into it now."

Yesterday morning, as I was reeling slightly from the emotional rollercoaster of submitting my Aleph application and doing my first funeral within the span of 48 hours, I got an email from my friend Judith, a student in the rabbinic smicha program and one of my Elat Chayyim room-mates when I was there in July. Her email congratulated me for being accepted so quickly.

I blinked at the screen. My heart leapt into my throat. I wrote back to ask her if she knew something I didn't know. Sure enough, she did, and now all of you know it, too: I've just been accepted into rabbinic school! Over the course of the day my inbox overflowed with emails from other students in the program, and rabbis who received smicha through it, welcoming me into the community and wishing for me that the journey be a fruitful one filled with blessings. I have no doubt that it will be.

For any local readers who may be worried that this means I'm leaving town, fear not; I'm not going anywhere. The lay leader work I do at CBI (which I've come to think of as my apprenticeship in practical rabbinics) will be a major component of the program for me. This fall I'll also be taking my first Aleph tele-course (a continuation of the Deep Ecumenism class I took this summer); the Clinical Pastoral Education program I'm doing in Albany this year is part of my Aleph studies; and I'm about to sign up for a Hebrew course online so I can continue readying myself for the kind of in-depth text study that is coming my way.

Over time I hope to blog more about my rabbinic aspirations, about why I chose this program, about the path that brought me here -- and, hey, about doing my first funeral, which was a strange rite of passage too -- but for now, I'm floating on a cloud, and wanted to share my joy. 

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