You Shall Pursue

October 18, 2012

First thoughts on pulpit work

Filed under: Jewish Communitty, Rabbinical School, Spirituality — marleyweiner @ 7:57 pm

I really really enjoy working with children. So much so, in fact, that I spent this Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur leading children’s services. I had the kids for two and a half hours, and wanted to provide them with meaningful, engaging, and fun (whenever possible) prayer experiences.

Something that I learned while doing services this year, is that I am really going to have to work on the balance between creating a spiritual experience for myself while at the same time working really hard to create a spiritual or learning experience for students or congregants. Serving others can be a very specific type of spiritual experience, but I never want to get to the point where I am so focused on the needs of the people that I am serving that I begin to neglect my own needs.

This is something that every rabbinical student struggles with. We join the rabbinate often because we find deep meaning in performing ritual and praying. However, immersive experiences are really good at causing burnout. When your life revolves around something, even if that something brings you joy, it can be a struggle to continue doing that something without needing a break. I consider it a high priority to stay spiritually engaged during ritual, and there is a difference when working with kids between having fun (and I had a BLAST) and carving out spiritual space. This is especially challenging on days like Yom Kippur, when I am traditionally able to turn my focus entirely inward.

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