This week's portion: 'God of Carnage' vacation
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Rab school update: approaching fall

It's been a while since I've posted a general rabbinic school update here. The summer has offered an amazing ebb and flow of learning, intensity, and energy, all of which have been filtered through my experience of pregnancy and my body's changing needs and capabilities.

In July I spent two weeks in Ohio for a rabbinic school intensive. I blogged a little bit from Kallah (where I took an eco-Judaism course and a course on the writings of the Baal Shem Tov, a.k.a. the BeShT) and from smicha students' week (where I took a hashpa'ah / spiritual direction intensive and a class on using songs, poems, and stories in pastoral care.) After a bit of a break, the eco-Judaism class has started up again as a teleclass (we'll run through the fall holidays); the Baal Shem Tov class will begin again as a teleclass next week and will run through November.

The other summer class on my plate is part two of the fabulous Moadim l'Simcha ("Seasons of Our Rejoicing" -- a class in the Hasidic sacred year which gives us the opportunity to study Hasidic texts pertaining to the festivals and the liturgical year.) That class began in early August and will run until the holidays, with a special bonus session during Chanukah. (Lately we've been reading texts about the month of Elul, full of themes of spiritual preparation for the Days of Awe.) The Hasidut section of my course grid is now full, so this class and the Baal Shem Tov class I'm taking this summer/fall will be the end of my formal studies in Hasidut. That's bittersweet for me -- I finally feel like I'm getting a handle on Hasidic Hebrew, and I love the learning! -- but I'm grateful that the learning I've done to date gives me the tools to continue studying these texts on my own.

Meanwhile, plans for my fall semester have finally come together. Bizarrely, the two places on my course grid which need the most attention are Tanakh and Exegesis, so I'm lining up courses which fit into each of those categories this fall. I'm planning an independent study in feminist Biblical exegesis (I'll have a hevruta partner and a teacher), a tutorial in a personal / neo-Hasidic mode of engaging with the Torah portion of the week (again, with a hevruta partner and a teacher), a tutorial in psalms (again, a hevruta partner and teacher) and possibly also an online class in Job if I decide I can swing it. I'll post more about each of these once the fall term is about to get underway.

I'm hoping that the personal nature of the course experiences will allow me to condense my semester a little bit. Though the summer class in the Besht will begin next week and run through November, the rest of these classes won't begin until after the fall Jewish holidays. Which isn't a problem for most ALEPH students -- actually it's a fairly standard schedule for us, since most of us (students and faculty alike) have high holiday obligations. But since I'm anticipating a major life change at the start of Chanukah (if not before!) I need to be prepared to do as much work as I can in advance, which means that my semester may need to be short and dense. There are moments when I'm a bit overwhelmed by all of this, and other moments when I want to dive in to the semester and savor it as much as I can -- it's my last semester of fulltime study for the forseeable future.

On top of all of that (believe it or not, there's more) the hashpa'ah (spiritual direction) program I'm in requires me to begin working with two mushpa'ot (directees) this fall. So in September I'll begin my apprenticeship as a spiritual director, working with two women in my community who are interested in the process of spiritual direction and who are willing to commit to a ten-session journey together. I don't get course credit for that, per se, but it's an important part of my training, and I'll also be in supervision (with a group of my colleagues and one of my teachers) to ensure that I have a good space within which to process whatever learning arises for me as I begin to do that work.

And meanwhile I'll be preparing myself for impending parenthood, as much as that's possible! This feels like a lot to have on my plate, but these are all good things; even as I sometimes struggle to get everything done in a timely manner, I'm grateful for the opportunities as they unfold.