It has been such a long time since I blogged! So much has been going on, I don’t even know where to begin! I guess I will start from where I lost my incentive to write due to loosing one of my favorite teaching positions as of the first of the year because of budget cutbacks. It took me a while to get through the mourning process. It was made more difficult when I saw my replacement (the Cantor of the synagogue) coming in to work with the children so the transition would be made easier for them. I also had to see how I was going to replace the monies I lost to help us continue to pay the bills, which was nerve-racking being it was in the middle of a school year. So many people have been supportive: parents,colleagues,friends, and especially Ron (my husband). Upon my being told about being laid off, I knew I would have to most likely recreate myself again. Many, many synagogue ECCs are laying off or minimally using music specialists. I have had a couple of interviews; one position in particular I really would like to get, but I do not get my hopes up because I do not want to be sad any more. I have experienced a lot of sadness the past 5 years or so. I have registered with a few Hebrew Day Schools for substitution work and have been called, which covers the days I do not work. I am ready to move on and meet new challenges!
We all know that life is full of surprises and my life is certainly no different! I was asked by Rabbi Michael Gold if I would like to lead a Meditation Service. I surprisingly said yes! I really was shocked at myself, because that was never my kind of scene before. I guess age, maturity (yes, I am somewhat mature), and experience has brought me to the point where I am somewhat comfortable with this. It will take place Shabbat morning, March 8th at 9:30 at Temple Beth Torah in Tamarac. It will be approximately a one hour service with recitations, chanting and breathing. All are welcome! I wrote and compiled a booklet for myself, and everyone will get a song/reading sheet. I am hoping to write a couple of melodies for the chants. I am very excited about this opportunity. I would like to conduct this service at other synagogues/chavurot as well.
I know that people have changed over the past several years regarding how we connect to God. Although, Temple Beth Torah and other synagogues get good turnouts for Shabbat services, many, many do not. I observe that people in my age group and older frequent services more than younger people. People do not want to be within the four walls for traditional services. Clergy and lay leaders keep seeking ways to get people in the Four Walls. Eventually, at least at Temple Beth Torah, I would like to see this take off monthly, and maybe do it outside (before it gets too hot!) I know that other synagogues and groups are conducting meditation services quite successfully. Join me on March 8th! If anybody reading this has any suggestions and ideas, please share!
Regarding my all ready existing work, everything is going well. My busiest day and most rewarding day is Fridays where I can get to conduct 5 to 6 Shabbat servies for people from infancy to 120 depending on the Friday. Last week, in one of the schools I go to, after saying the blessing over the wine, I heard a 5 year old little girl say to one of her fellow students, “you have take a sip or it will be an empty blessing!” The little girl wanted to save her grape juice for when she eats her challah. She took a sip after her friend told her she had to take a least a tiny sip. I was so impressed and proud of her!
I have been trying to give my students and congregants visuals to assist them in their prayer experiences. I told a story that an educational director I work for told a class and me. She is in her 60s and lost her Father when she was eight years old. Every Friday night when her Father took her to services, upon singing L’cha Dodi, he told her to look the for Shabbat Bride to come flying in the door in her flowing white bridal gown. Till today, the Religious School Director hears her Father telling her the little Midrash (legend), and she sees the visual. I now do as well. Upon telling my congregants this yesterday, one of my congregants said she started getting all teary eyed. I was quite moved at the reaction. I think visuals are important in the prayer experience, words are notalways enough. One of my Rabbis from up North told me years ago why he bows in three different directions during the Barchu, Alaynu and other prayers. When he bows to the left, he is bowing toward God’s right hand; when he bows to the right, he is bowing toward God’s left hand; and when he bows toward the middle he is bowing to all of God’s Divine Presence. When I bow in this fashion, I feel a sense of security and shalem (peacefulness). I feel a closeness with God. I share this with students and others who ask why I bow the way I do. I do not want to just tell them that it was the way I was taught. Some of my students have began to bow like this because of the visual they now have.
Today was a day for me to spend much more time with my hubby and get some sun. I needed to feel the warmth and listen to the sounds of nature, and not be cooped up in four walls. I finally am able to write while Ron is making us some lunch. This is my Shabbat today.