Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Reflections on 2009

There is one full day left of 2009...can you believe it?

In between my finals and travels and reunions with family and friends, I've had a little time to sit and reflect on the year that is almost over. It's been a bigger, busier year than I realized. I think I will always look back on 2009 as the year I grew up and came into my own, both as a cantor and as a human being.

I've struggled with the right way to wrap up the year on the blog. Taking a cue from my friend Elizabeth's blog, I present you with a month-by-month recap of 2009's most challenging, exciting, heartbreaking, and meaningful events in the life of this cantor-in-training.

The year started off with a relaxing family cruise to Jamaica and Grand Cayman. I returned to NYC to start semester #4 of cantorial school, giving my first practicum and showing my dad around the big city. I also began taking guitar lessons.

I discovered my slightly irrational fear of the mice in my apartment, and tried to deal with it as best I could (with the help of my fabulous brother.) I visited Jane in New Hampshire, and returned to NYC promising myself I would stop hating the city so much.

SSM students with through our second round of placement for student positions, some of us securing great jobs for the 2009-2010 school year, others being left in the dust. I became evermore grateful for my student pulpit opportunities.

I spent a wonderful few days in NYC with Mike and Joey before coming home to STL for spring break. I led services at HUC-NYC for the first time, including a service that honored both Yom Hazikaron and the 5th year students' last day of classes--at the same service.

I regained my faith in becoming a cantor/Jewish professional by participating in and experiencing Investiture/Ordination. I completed year 2 of my cantorial studies with finals and by ROCKING my fear-invoking, anxiety-inducing comprehensive exams. I talked honestly with the rabbi of my congregation in South Bend, telling him of my professional unhappiness and disappointments throughout the year. I said goodbye to the people who made my congregational experience so wonderful and worthwhile by presenting a concert of Jewish and Broadway music. I participated in my first weddings by singing in Josh and Emily's wedding and co-officiating my cousin Hilary and her husband Doug's wedding.

I began my second summer of cuteness at the St Louis JCC, working with their pre-school camp as music specialist. I traveled with my mom and her family to Waterville, Maine, where I sang to my cousin Sarah on her Bat Mitzvah. I rediscovered my hometown, including the JCC and it's exercise facilities. I sang in my friend Elizabeth's wedding and reunited with some wonderful college friends.

I began playing guitar in front of real people for my summer job. I sang my first funeral for a wonderful man who died too soon. I celebrated my 27th birthday at work and at a St Louis Cardinal's baseball game. I traveled to Columbia for a day with my brother to see my Lee-lah. I celebrated my cousin-to-be at my cousin's baby shower. I traveled to Cincinnati with Dave, Gal and Dahlia on their cross-country journey and had a great time with them, Steph, Batya and Carlie.

I realized just how much I love my hometown. I left said hometown to move back to NYC and cleaned up a lot of dead mice in my apartment. I visited my new student congregation informally and began making wonderful relationships with my rabbinic mentor and congregants. I began preparing practicum #2 and attended a wonderfully fun HUC Kallah which began semester #5 of cantorial school.

I presented practicum #2 to rave reviews from my student colleagues and SSM faculty. I officially began my tenure at Temple Beth Israel in York, PA with my first shabbat, Slichot, and High Holy Days. I welcomed my mom, brother, aunt and uncle to York to celebrate Rosh Hashanah with me. I rejoiced in another HHD's under my belt. I wrote my first post for BlogHUC. We welcomed baby Toby into our family.

My cousin Kelly married her husband Bill, in a beautiful wedding that I had to miss due to school and financial constraints. I participated in the Garecht Outreach Institute conference with the rest of my 3rd year class. Had a fun lunch with my Aunt Diane and Uncle Harold at the Carnegie Deli in NYC. I co-led a week of services at HUC with my friend Marc. I began 4 straight weeks of pulpit visits, leading to an exhausting and exhilarating period of time.

Did all of this stuff and somehow lived to tell about it. Participated in our first-annual Midwest Meets Brooklyn Thanksgiving dinner. Slept for 3 days afterward and enjoyed my time off.

Wrote a melody for Y'hiyu L'ratzon, which I debuted to my classmates at a group dinner at Debbie Friedman's house. Found out about Leah's exciting engagement to Bobby. Wrote papers and finals and completed my 5th semester of cantorial school. YAY 50% CANTOR!!! Kissed NYC goodbye for the West Coast and visited Mike and Joey in LA, where I went to Disneyland for the first time. Traveled home to STL for the first time since August and reunited with family and friends. Began the process of rebuilding relationships with clergy at Temple Israel.

Whew. Are y'all as tired as I am?

It's been a big, trying, and fun year full of growth opportunities and new experiences. May all the best follow each of us into 2010 and give us a year of peace, contentment, and love.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Go Rabbi Ron!

As a huge supporter and ally of the gay community (Jewish or otherwise), I felt the need to share this with all of you. What a rockstar this rabbi is!

Gay Rabbi Comes Out of His Orthodox Closet - VJ Movement

Posted using ShareThis

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

It's Been a Long Time

Hi Friends. For those of you who are still with me, my sincere apologies on my hiatus from blogging. It's turned into a very busy semester! I am a little sad that I don't have some of the highlights on here as my own personal documentation, as it's been a truly great semester, but I feel the need to press forward rather than look back.

I'm currently in the middle of finals week, blogging instead of working on my dreaded rabbinics final. I've knocked out my education and Jewish modes finals, and I've worked hard on my music theory final that I'll take in class on Thursday. Rabbinics, however, is another story. For whatever reason, I'm struggling to find the right words to say what I want to say and fill the 10-page length requirement. Therefore, I write little bits at a time and pray that it all comes together into a cohesive and articulate final exam. We'll see...
The best part of finals week? Knowing that it eventually comes to an end. This Friday, once all of my finals are completed and the semester is officially over, I am leaving for a visit to California to see my wonderful friends Mike and Joey. On Christmas eve, I'll hop on a plane to St Louis for my first trip home since August. It will be wonderful to get away for a couple of weeks, and even more wonderful to see my friends and family again.

As great as this semester has been, it's starting to get to me that I've had to miss so much in the lives of my family and friends in St Louis. My cousin's wedding, another cousin's visit to STL with her new baby boy, Thanksgiving; all of which I've missed because of work or school commitments. I'm struggling to find an appropriate balance of work and home, school and family. They're all important to me, and I feel like this semester the people in my life have taken a back seat to the profession in my life. It breaks my heart to think of the important things I've had to miss in the lives of my family and friends back home, for my own sake as much as everyone else's.

This semester I'm learning that I HAVE to take time out of my crazy schedule to be at home and with my friends all over the country. I also need to sleep, continue the healthy eating and exercise habits that seem to be on hiatus this semester, and find hobbies that have nothing to do with life as a cantor. Can I do it? I don't really know at this point. When is it okay to say to a professor or my boss, "I'm sorry I didn't get X accomplished, I was with my family this weekend."?

This program (and profession) is pretty great in that it constantly brings up questions, flaws, and hidden personality quirks that force you to stop, reflect, and attempt to find resolution.

For now, I live life like I write my rabbinics final...slowly and piece by piece, knowing it will all turn out just as it's meant to, in it's own time.