This week, my friend Jill and I were responsible for leading morning t'fillah at school. Though we only had 2 days of school this week, our task was mighty, especially on the last day of classes.
It was Yom Hazikaron, Israeli memorial day for fallen soliders and victims of terrorist attacks. Unlike the United States, Israel's memorial day is taken very seriously, and is a solemn and sad day for Israelis.
It was also the last day of classes for the year. One of HUC-NYC's traditions on the last day of class is to invite up all of the graduating cantorial, rabbinical and education students to say Kaddish D'rabbanan, a special prayer that is said at the completion of one's studies.
As you can imagine, it was quite a challenge to create a service that maintained the sanctity
of Yom Hazikaron and celebrated the success of our classmates. Jill and I worked tirelessly last week to create a service that was meaningful, beautiful, and memorable.
It just goes to show that hard work and thoughtfulness can pay off in a big way. Our service went over beautifully--we were able to mourn the losses of the State of Israel while still singing and dancing with our graduates. Nothing was compromised, everything was remembered, and our efforts majorly worked in our favor. I sang well (people were complementing me even today, a full day later, on the service) and Jill delivered her teachings and blessings to the graduates with gusto.
I was also excited to deliver my first iyun (teaching) to the community. Before we sang Mi Chamocha, I offered up these words:
The following words were taken from the diary of Alex Singer, a 25-year-old fallen solider, written one year before his death near the Israel-Lebanon border.
As I progress toward the course's end
I feel a pang of fear.
Today I felt such fear.
If the war comes,
When the war comes,
I will have to lead men to die.
But those men were not men a short time ago
Some don't even shave yet.
And I will have to have the calm power
to yell to them
or to whisper
I will have to have the calm power to step forward myself.
Just like Moses and the Israelites, Alex had a choice. Stay, and never know of the great miracles that might await him, or go and risk everything on the hope that eventually Israel would find freedom and peace. Unlike Moses and the Israelites, Alex was never able to witness his miracle. And yet, he pushed on, knowing that the miracle would come alive for us and countless others. Today, we sing for the miracle at the Red Sea, and the miracle that is yet to come, when young men and women will no longer need to give their lives for their country. Today, we sing for the miracle that is the Land of Israel.
I am proud of this service. Extremely proud. And honored that I was able to be a part of it.
Our t'fillah advisor, Cantor Benjie Schiller, said that we would look back on this service and be thankful for the opportunity to lead it. She was right. Not only did it feel good to lead such a powerful service, it felt good to stand confidently on the HUC bimah. After a rough semester and some rather embarrassing breakdowns at the bimah, I needed this t'fillah to regain my strength in my abilities. I'm hoping that that feeling of confidence will stay with me through comprehensive exams, when I need it the most.
There is so much stuff going on right now that I'd love to write about...maybe in between papers and/or comps cramming I can write about the college's current financial situation, ordination/investiture, comprehensive exams, summer plans, etc. Here's hoping!
BTW--if anyone knows of any summer job opportunities out there, please holler...this cantor wannabe needs a job!