Moving towards my future

This domain scares me. I want to be clear that I am still in the process of becoming a rabbi. My fifth year of rabbinical school started in August. With the help of HaShem, I am working towards May, 2023 ordination.

Yet, I claim the title in my domain

I did check with my advisor at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California before moving my blog. Our seminary is very clear about not referring to yourself by a title you have not earned. Nevertheless, the journey is a process. Some people use the title “student rabbi.” Others, “Rabbi-in-training.” And sometimes, community members will use “rabbi” regardless of your ordination status. This is true across religions — people confer the title they need you to assume in the moment.

I take this process very seriously. It took me six years from feeling the call to attending rabbinical school full-time. At times, I still have trouble believing I am actually doing this. As a person in mid-career transition, I am very aware how privileged I am to be able to spend these years sinking into the depths of Jewish wisdom, hoping to become a better version of myself, and helping others along their journeys.

Fundamentally, this domain helps me live into the person I am becoming.

What kind of Judaism?

Trans-denominational, rabbinic Judaism. Movements are a relatively new phenomena, and unlikely to remain stable for many generations to come. I learn the tradition on its own terms. Reading texts from original intent. Exploring their influence on later generations of Jews.

Simultaneously, I draw from my wider understanding of the human condition. I graduated from Wellesley College with a bachelor’s degree in Peace and Justice Studies. Perennial interest in how people interact on a communal, national, and global scale.

My influences

I grew up at Temple Ramat Zion, where I was a Bar Mitzvah tutor and adult choir member as a teenager. As an adult, I returned to Judaism through Rabbi Mordechai Finley’s teaching at Ohr HaTorah. Rabbi Finley was a co-founder of the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, where I am studying to become a rabbi.

I graduated from the Davennen Leadership Training Institute, a two-year program sponsored by ALEPH: alliance for Jewish Renewal. Attended two trans-denominational rabbinical student retreats hosted by Rabbi Sid Schwarz. I earned a unit of clinical pastoral education, doing most of my clinical hours at a local community hospital. This provided me the opportunity to work alongside Christian chaplains and provide spiritual care to a wide breadth of individuals. I volunteered with Ruach, a Jewish emotional and spiritual support service.

Conservative, Orthodox, Reform, Reconstructing, Renewal, and secular humanist Judaism have all contributed to my appreciation and understanding of Jewishness.

Previously, I worked in community organizing, advertising and marketing, and at a software company.

I do not speak for any organization or institution.

My vision: ethical mysticism

I am a work in progress. In particular, this website is part of the process of refining my vision and explaining myself more concretely and more simply. My partner believes my words are still too complex to attract readers. Nevertheless, they are the only ones I have at the moment to describe my vision.

Ethical mysticism: honoring my soul and the souls around me. Understanding myself in order to become a better version of myself. Using my higher self to observe my ego-self. Communicating with my Inclination towards Destructiveness, my Yetzer HaRa. Recognizing the difference between my ego and my soul. Creating space for my soul to flow into the soul of the universe.

My path in ethical mysticism is firmly rooted within the Jewish tradition. Reading and dissecting the ideas of this civilization is a deep honor. Yet, Jewishness does not exist in a vacuum. From neo-Platonic philosophy to neuroscience, I attempt to incorporate all of my learning into my life’s journey.

Rabbi Max Kedushin, z”l, in Rabbinic Mind described Judaism as an intellectual organism. I love this metaphor. We are all part of the process of keeping this organism alive and helping it to evolve.

Picture by Johannes Plenio via Pixabay.

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