I’m a very busy person.
Ten years ago, I couldn’t have imagined that I would be living in the state so devastated by the hurricane I was watching/not watching… Land Mass between New Orleans and Mobile, anyone?
As a history intern for the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life this summer, one of my responsibilities was to accession items donated to the ISJL. One such group of items I worked on came from a store in Lake Providence, Louisiana. Once owned by a Jewish man named Mr. Galanty, this store has long since closed. Among the donated artifacts were typical items, the sort you would expect to find in a dry goods store — like adding machines and shirt racks. But there was one item in particular that I will remember for a long time.
I love dogs. I remember being a kid and begging my mom and dad for one and having to wait and wait and wait for one. I remember the drive to get our first dog, going to the breeder’s property, picking up Brandy in the minivan, and driving back to the house. It is one of those memories that lingers in your mind forever and every few years something triggers it and you stop what you’re doing to recall the feel, the smell, and the moment. Over the course of my lifetime I have had four “family” dogs. When I left home at 18 for college I was too busy to justify raising a dog, going to school full time, and working full time. As soon as I finished school I became a teacher which required way too much time to justify it, and when I became an administrator the light of having a dog became even dimmer.
As a professional Jewish educator, I try to stay current on the field of Jewish education by reading the latest articles and studies. I want to see if we are on target in the work that we do, I want to discover new ideas and strategies and I also want to be inspired and supported. Even though I am 20 years in the field, I still desperately need all of these things.
“The birds are gone. The life that throbbed through tree, bush and grass is stilled. The ground is frozen so that it hurts our feet to tread on… it is winter in my life since the guardian angel of fifty years no longer walks by my side on earth.”
For those of you who remember my very pregnant Passover post, you’ll be happy to know I made it through a crowded and joyful seder at the end of my third trimester… and welcomed a sweet baby boy into the world later that month! And now that he’s three months old I feel like it’s the appropriate time to start sharing stories about him on the Internet that will someday embarrass him.
I’ve made Kiddush in synagogue social halls countless times. Most of my life I stood there holding a humble plastic cup with its thimbleful of Manischewitz with one eye on the oneg offerings. Since becoming a rabbi, my Kiddush cup has been upgraded, although I’ve never stopped looking toward the oneg table.
I need strength, humility, courage, patience. Strength to control my passions, humility to assess my own worth, courage to rise above defeats, patience, to cleanse myself of imperfections. And wisdom: to learn and live by our sacred teachings. Let me not be discouraged by my failings. Let me take heart from all that is good and noble in my character. Keep me from falling victim to cynicism. Teach me sincerity and enthusiasm. Endow me with perception and courage that I may serve others with compassion and love. – Robert Kahn, “I Need Strength,” Mishkan T’Filah prayer book p. 336.
What makes a house a home? Transforming what was once just a brick and wood into a place for families to gather, friends to laugh, and lives to unfold takes a lot of work. For me, the idea of turning a house into a home is no longer just a cliché, but a reality.