Monday, January 19, 2009

Best. Job. Ever.

Temple Beth-El covered in snow...amazingly full of warmth on the inside despite it's snowy facade!

This is a bench. Except that it looks--however morbidly--like a coffin of snow.

Hardcore icicles outside of my host's house...remember the Grey's Anatomy episode where Christina gets impaled by the icicle? Yeah, that's pretty much all I could think about when I saw this :)

I apologize in advance for the excessive cheesiness of this post. If it weren't completely true, however, I wouldn't post it.

I've just returned from a wonderful visit to my congregation in South Bend. It'd been a long time since my last visit in November, and while I was looking forward to seeing my amazing Beth-El family, I was not looking forward to facing the arctic temperatures and snow. I even considered canceling for the weekend, as I was afraid to head up there and face the cold just a few days before my first practicum.

Thank God I didn't cancel.

I can't tell you how wonderful it was to be there this weekend, from touchdown in SB on Friday afternoon to takeoff on Sunday. It was an really, really good weekend. I learn every single time I'm there, which is great, but I think the true benefits of being a student cantor in a congregation come from the reminders of WHY we chose this profession. Singing on the bimah, next to a fantastic mentor and in front of the most incredible congregation I could ask for, helped me so much to forget my crazy HUC schedule and practicum and homework and just concentrate on using my gifts to benefit a group of Jewish people who always welcome me with open arms.

How does it get any better than that?

Well, it does. I realized this weekend just how lucky I am to be the student cantor where I am. From day one, when I was still in Israel, temple members reached out to me in the form of emails, expressing their excitement. My first weekend, I was greeted with such enthusiasm that I nearly became overwhelmed. In consecutive visits, I've become a member of the Beth-El family, and I've fallen completely in love with this amazing group of people.

Whenever I visit South Bend, I am reminded of what it means to be a mensch, the nicest kind of person. I learn time and time again the meaning of how to be a real Jew, how to treat others with kindness and live the words of Torah. Never have I had to eat a meal by myself in South Bend. Never have I had to worry about where I will stay or if my privacy or time will be respected due to home stays. Never have I felt like a burden to this community. Whenever I am there I am embraced with open arms and inspired to work harder to be a better cantor, a better person and a better Jew.

Members of my congregation often comment on how happy and joyful I look when I'm on the bimah. Unlike some bimot that I've sung upon, I don't have to work to be this way. It is a true pleasure to be in this place and to be praying with these people. I'm learning just how wonderful it is to be able to share my love of Judaism with people who are shining examples of what real Jews are.

Keep shining--TBE--and know how thankful I am to be your student cantor. It is a pleasure to pray with you all.

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