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.

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