“When I was in junior high, and all my friends were having their Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, I just enjoyed celebrating with them. It didn’t really occur to me that I wasn’t having one of my own. It wasn’t until college that I really began to regret it…” With these words, Jessica Yanow, my best friend since we were eight years old, began reflecting on her own Jewish upbringing and education.
How can we even begin to process this? A beautiful 8 year-old boy, Leiby Kletzky, was simply on his way home from his local yeshiva day camp in Borough Park. He was to meet his mother at their appointed location, but failed to show up. A search was begun by law enforcement and members of the community, and all remained hopeful that Leiby would be found, safe and sound.
As I write this, [Cue: “We are the Champions” by Queen], I am completing a very profound weekend of rabbi-ing. From Friday morning through Monday afternoon, I took part in a number of major lifecycle events, ranging from birth to death. I am frequently the officiant for at least one lifecycle event on any given weekend, but rarely do I have a weekend such as this:
In my third year of rabbinical school, I began a student pulpit in Florida. One part of my two-year experience there that will always stay with me involved my work with a prospective convert, Tammy. In the middle of my first year, she approached me to discuss the possibility of conversion to Judaism. She had read quite a bit about Judaism already, and she really felt that the Jewish community was her true home.
During my years in rabbinical school,… Oh, wait, I have to check something on Facebook for a second… Do you mind waiting?... Okay, I’m back. So, where was I? Right – during rabbinical school, a frequent topic in our Professional Development classes was how to keep a healthy boundary between the personal and the professional (and, clearly I’m on the edge).
So, I'm in the middle of my Pesach preparations, as I'm sure many of you are. I'm figuring out which Haggadah to use this year, finalizing the menu that my sister and I will prepare for our guests, and cleaning up the living room and dining room. The kitchen is about to be the eye of the storm, and brand-new bottles of Manichewitz wine are already forming what looks like a small army on the counter.
Hundreds of Reform Rabbis traveled to New Orleans… sounds like the start of a joke, yes? This past week marked the 122nd Annual Convention of the Central Conference of American Rabbis - the CCAR - and, yes, this year's convention was held in New Orleans, Louisiana.