Thursday, February 27, 2014

February 2014: A Retrospective

My, what a long, strange month it's been!

February 2014 has been the longest, most fascinating, challenging, eye-opening and soul-stirring month of our lives. And I cannot believe that tomorrow it finally comes to an end.

At the beginning of February I began the Placement process to determine where I will wind up next year as a full-time rabbi. From the speed-dating-style initial interviews (on Super Bowl Sunday, no less) with wonderful congregations to exciting callbacks to the busy yet fulfilling site visits themselves; each aspect of this process was a phenomenal learning experience for me. 

What a privilege it has been to see what Judaism looks like through the eyes of these communities I have visited. To hear people articulate why their community matters to them. To meet senior rabbis and associate rabbis who love what they do and are passionate about building community. To teach people, and speak openly with people, and do my best to share a little bit of myself with people

And, most importantly, to see these communities excited, passionate, and invested in what will be the next chapter in their congregation's life. 

Yesterday I read through this week's parsha, Pekudei. I noticed that it was yet another Torah portion about the building of the mishkan; the tabernacle. When I looked back a few chapters, I was reminded of the first charge concerning the tabernacle God speaks to Moses in Terumah: build me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them. (Exodus 25:8)

I did a little math and saw that Terumah was the portion we read at the beginning of the Placement process. And this week, Pekudei is the conclusion of that narrative. It's the final parsha in the book of Exodus. It closes out the discussion on the structure, content, and sanctity of the tabernacle itself. The sometimes repetitive descriptions of God's vision for the mishkan conclude beautifully in Pekudei.

The significance of this timing struck me. How apropos to this Placement process; this long, arduous, at times repetitive, beautiful, poignant, taxing, and meaningful month.

Each congregation that has interviewed us emerging rabbis was immersed in the building of their own mishkan; their own holy space. Additionally, each of us students has searched for the right mishkan in which to create holiness, meaningful relationships, and bring people closer to Torah. As I have said throughout this process, it's all about fit. It's about match. It's about rabbis feeling that they can bring their gifts and talents to a congregation and congregations feeling that same energy; that same excitement.

I do not know what will happen tomorrow morning, or the next day, or in the weeks and months and years ahead. But I do know that the Placement process has taught me so much about myself, about my peers and colleagues, about who I am as an emerging rabbi, about the family and friends who love and support me endlessly, about congregational life, and about what it means to be a Jew in America in the 21st century.

Finally, to my mishkan - the dwelling inside my heart in which my friends and family reside - I thank you for bringing me to this place and to this moment. I love you.

B'sha'ah Tovah,


Friday, February 7, 2014


I remember turning ten.


We had an ice skating party at the Culver City Rink (z"l). It was special. I was hitting double digits! What a thrill! At the party my mom recorded Uncle Peter congratulating me on turning ten: I can't believe you're ten years old ... it's only three more years 'til your Bat Mitzvah and it's like, blowing my mind! 

(You better believe that played on the montage video at my Bat Mitzvah)

I remember turning twenty.

I was living in the sorority house at UC Davis. My boyfriend at the time arranged a huge day for me. The whole time I kept thinking, holy mackarel, I'm twenty. TWENTY!? How did I get this old?

Today I'm thirty.


Three decades. Unbelievable.

What a fantastic ride the past decade has been.

Ten years ago I was nervous about the transition from teenager to adult. Ten years ago I was so ambivalent about stepping further and further away from my youth; my childhood. Who was I going to become? What was I going to become? I had some degree of clarity about my career path and knew I wanted to become a member of the clergy. But I had no idea what the next decade of my life would look like.

Now, here we are. Thirty. I'll be an ordained rabbi in about four months. I just completed my first round of interviews for my first job out of rabbinical school. I'm married to the most patient, loving, delicious, and supportive human being alive. My amazing parents are healthy. My brother is soaring. My grandfather is still kickin'. My big, vibrant, newly expanded family is family. My friends keep my heart beating strong. I am doing something that I love so deeply.

Seriously, who could ask for anything more?

I know that this next decade of my life will bring extraordinary triumphs and unimaginable challenges. I know that I have so much ahead - so much to learn, so many new and exciting people to learn from, so many relationships to form and mentors to seek and horizons to explore. So many ways to grow into the person I'm continuing to learn how to be.

I cannot wait.

So 30, it's nice to see you. I'm so glad you're here.