Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Do You Miss Being a Shul Rabbi?"

I have been asked this question probably hundreds of times. I figure that I can deal with it here, as well!

The answer (like any good "Jewish" answer) is "yes" and "no." Let me start off with one premise: I absolutely loved serving my community (and beyond) in Chicago in my capacity as a Rav. Without a doubt it was the most fulfilling 10 years of my adult life. I was afforded the opportunity to be involved in so many areas that most people do not have such an opportunity. There was never one single day where I would wake up and think that I was sorry to be in the profession I was in. Yes, it had its good days and its not-so-good days, without a doubt. Seeing deep-rooted problems and having to deal with them, both on an individual level and on a community level was, at times, debilitating. But that was far overshadowed by the involvement in so many good things in peoples' lives!
So, what do I miss about the position? I guess I would have to say that I miss the involvement in peoples' lives for weddings, smachot, (lo alenu) funerals, and day-to-day discussions/decisions. I truly love being involved in the lives of others. (That is not to say that I am no longer involved in peoples' me that 7000 miles has not changed that completely! It is just different...So, I would say that that is one aspect I miss.

As far as everything else that went with the position of Rav...well, there are parts I miss and parts I do not miss. I do not miss the writing of a weekly Derasha/Seudah Shlisheet derasha/preparing a class in Navi/preparing a class in history/preparing a Mishne Berurah class etc. etc. each week. Don't get me wrong: I TRULY enjoyed giving those shiurim!! However, any shiurim or talks I give (and I have already given some here and plan--BE"H--to give more) are on a volunteer basis when I want to do them. There is a different feeling when doing it in a volunteer capacity. This also now affords me more time for personal learning, a rare commodity in the rabbinate.

At the same time though, I do indeed feel VERY connected to my new community here in Mitzpe Nevo and have already been involved with several families for different purposes. I guess that the rabbinical aspect of last ten years will always be a part of me...and that is fine with me. I am so personally grateful to my community in Chicago, and Congregation KJBS in particular for all the opportunities they gave me to grow as a rabbi and as a Jew (not that those two are mutually exclusive!). Yes, people still have stayed in touch and yes, people still write me with their questions...and I am more than happy to answer. In a sense, it is the best of both worlds. I still have some involvement in something I love doing and I am doing it in the land I love so dearly.

I don't know if that fully answers the question in the title of this posting. But I think that the answer may still be a "work in progress." More to come at a later date.