You Shall Pursue

February 17, 2013

Having it all, Doing it all

Filed under: Choosing Life, Rabbinical School — marleyweiner @ 6:29 am

The challenge of being in an environment that I truly love is I want to FIX everything. If I am indifferent or dispassionate, I am able to let the system alone and take it for what it is. This is not true of the things I am passionate about. I want everyone to love everything that I love as much as I love it. I love it, so if you don’t love it, there must be something I can do to make you see how great it is! (I never said my logic was SOUND, people) Since everything is flawed, there is always something that could change, that could make the system work better. And my greatest love is Judaism, and so my greatest frustrations lie in the flaws of the Jewish community.

I think part of the reason that I’ve gone a bit off the deep end in terms of wanting to take on everything so far this year is this feeling that if I know everything, I will be able to bring the best of everything to the table at all times, and that will mean that everything will be flawless and I will be able to create meaningful Jewish experiences that speak to everyone that I come in contact with. If I don’t know that it exists, how will I be able to incorporate it into my future rabbinate? And when it comes to learning, there is such a large gap between what most Jews know and the corpus of things to learn. And the things to learn are all fascinating! The more I learn, the more I realize what I don’t know, and the more desperately I try to cram new knowledge and new experience into my head.

And here’s where I have to acknowledge that life may be beating me up through the very systems that I am trying to reform. I can bring the best lesson plans in the world, but if I have a student who is having a terrible day, they may just not learn. I may prepare an amazing service, only to have nobody show up on account of impending bad weather. There is no such thing as doing the job so well that it works perfectly all the time.

But I need to balance that with the knowledge that there ARE so many barriers standing in the way of Jewish community and identity building for so many Jews. It’s a question of soft power; how do we provide the tools that people need to find Judaism and giving them ownership of that process without feeling responsible for every step of the way? I’m really not sure how to answer that question, and I have a feeling that I’m going to spend a LOT of time over the next five years figuring it out.

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