If you've been reading this blog for any period of time, you know that I've wanted to become a rabbi for a long time, and I've been formally studying to become a rabbi since fall of 2005. I'll be ordained, inshallah, in January of 2011.
The ALEPH rabbinic program has been an amazing experience for me. The very first time I experienced Jewish Renewal, at a week-long retreat back in 2002, I felt as though I'd spiritually come home -- and when I got home, I told Ethan, "I want to become a rabbi like they are rabbis." It's been awesome to be able to actually pursue that goal.
I love Jewish Renewal for its deep ecumenism (its insistence that there are many valid paths to God); how it combines the joy and God-consciousness of Hasidism with the social justice work and feminism of Reform Judaism; its deep commitment to a future in which the descendants of Abraham and the descendants of Ishmael can live in mutual respect and peace in the Middle East; and because this community has taught me how to pray, how to connect with God, and how to help others do the same.
ALEPH does a lot of things: not just running the various ordination programs, but also running a biennial Kallah and a biennial roving retreat center called Ruach ha'Aretz (both of which offer weeklong summertime retreats full of study and song), training people in the arts of sacred chant and leading services, serving Jewish elders -- there's a list of all of our affiliated projects on our website.
ALEPH has always operated on a shoestring, which means that in some ways we're less harmed by the current financial crisis than some other Jewish nonprofits have been. But we're still in need of funds. (Who isn't?) Instead of looking for major donors (though naturally we'd welcome those, too) we're working on lining up people who are willing to donate $18/month. As an ALEPH student, I've been making this donation since I started the program. A while back, we were all asked to invite others to join us in donating eighteen bucks a month. I figured I'd ask y'all.
I know that we're all beleaguered by requests for money these days, but I hope some of y'all will join me in this. I want to know that this institution which has been so transformative for me will continue to thrive for generations to come. You can sign up to make a monthly credit card donation here -- and if you wouldn't mind, please put my name in the "in honor of" box, so the folks in the office know I sent you.
Thanks for bearing with me; regular programming will resume here again tomorrow! I wish you all a shabbat shalom.