Picture on my walk to HUC
July 13, 2010
Orientation week is off to a great start. Every once in a while I stop and think about where I am. I look around me at the people who will one day be scattered across the world leading congregations of their own. These people will be colleagues of mine forever whom I will be calling on for advice, encouragement and wisdom. It’s all still a bit surreal.
I think there are about 65 students in our Year In Israel Program. There are 10 Cantorial students, 10 Education students, and 45 Rabbinic students. Our group, on one hand, has a lot in common with each other. At the same time, we are also very diverse. Most of the students are from the U.S., but some are also from Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Berlin and London. I would say that most of the students are in their 20s, but some are in their 30s, 40s, 50s, coming to HUC as a second or third career choice. Half of the students never thought they would become a clergy person and half of us, including me, feel like we have been on a smooth, natural path towards HUC our whole lives. Many of the students brought their girlfriends/boyfriends, wives/husbands with them to Israel for the year. Many, sadly, had to leave them at home. We took a lot of time today during our orientation to hear each other’s stories and how we arrived at this journey.
Our first day of orientation (yesterday) started with mixers led by our summer interns. Afterwards, Rabbi Josh Zweiback (Yoshi) led us in a Talmud study. It turns out that there is never a dull moment with Yoshi as he imitates Israeli accents or incorporates the phrase “Original Gangster” into a Talmudic discussion.
This year is going to be a year of growth. Yoshi reminded us this as he gave us all our own journals to use throughout the school year. We are encouraged to bring these journals with us everywhere to reflect on what we are learning. Yoshi quoted a teacher of his, “We don’t learn from doing. We learn from doing and reflecting on what we have done.” I really want to appreciate this gift I have been given. To live a whole year in Israel and be a full time student. For a year, my full time job is to learn about the beauty of Israel, about the challenges of Israel, to immerse myself in Hebrew and words of Torah, to learn about the Jewish people, the world, human beings, about prayer and how I fit into all of this.