Saturday, August 9, 2008

I Did It!

Ed, Rayna, me and Kerry during Rayna's Torah reading (thanks Aunt Diane, for the picture!)

My first solo life-cycle event, that is. And what an event it was.

On July 12, I had the privilege of leading a Bat Mitzvah service for my former music ed professor's daughter, Rayna. It was the first service I have ever led completely on my own--no rabbi or rabbinical students to work with. Just myself, Rayna, her mom, and some help from the amazing Jewish community in Columbia, Missouri.

It was nerve-wracking. I wasn't the slightest bit worried about Rayna, as she proved week after week that she was more than capable of learning her parts of the service in a short amount of time. As I usually am, I was concerned with choreography: getting everyone where they need to be when they need to be there, making sure the Torah is always in the right place at the right time in a respectful manner, asking the congregation to stand or sit, etc. As much as I may have worried, everything (of course) came together beautifully. Special thanks to Kerry and Ed Hollander for their help as gabbai'im--they really helped to keep my nerves settled and the service running smoothly.

I can't tell you how good it felt to lead this Bat Mitzvah. Standing on the bimah in Columbia, I had flashbacks of my entire year in Israel, thinking about how far I have come in the last year. No longer am I afraid or intimidated by the idea of leading a service by myself--I proved to myself that I can do it, and that I am GOOD at it. I am going to make a GOOD cantor. The confidence I have gained is incredible; it makes me feel stronger and motivates me to keep learning and keep trying and keep taking risks to grow and change and evolve. To be able to do what you love and do it well, with poise and confidence, is a huge blessing. Thank you, Rayna and Wendy, for giving me the gift of this realization and the opportunity to be a part of this huge moment in your family's life.

Of course, the service wasn't perfect. I forgot to tell the congregation to sit a few times and then called the wrong family up to lead Kiddish. Nevertheless, we laughed it off, kept going, and everyone (including myself) was happy. I guess that's what life is all about. Laughter, prayer, music, love. What else can a girl ask for?

Mazal tov, Rayna, on a job well done :)


elizhogan said...

Tracy, it is wonderful to read your journey. God bless you and your ministry... I can't believe you did Rayna's Bat M! Is she that old?

Can't wait to hear about NYC!

Stephanie said...

My dear friend/sister, you won't be a GOOD cantor. You will be a GREAT cantor! I can't wait to see you in a couple of weeks...