I’m reposting from my personal blog, because I think it is important for you all to see what inspired me, and is helping me grow my rabbinate. Recently I had the opportunity to study Torah with friends, colleagues and teachers from JTS. The few days at Pearlstone were so powerful for me. They helped me think about how I teach, how I learn, and what I love about being a rabbi. It was an incredible experience. Below is my blog and my thank you to JTS for the opportunity to participate.
From January 7-11, 2018, I had the privilege of attending the 33rd Annual Rabbinic Training Institute. I am deeply grateful to my anonymous donor who helped make it possible for me to attend. Since my ordination, I’ve desired to go, but time and/or finances have never quite worked out. I cannot fully express my appreciation to them for making it happen this year. Every year I would hear from colleagues what an amazing experience it was. I heard of colleagues who have been every year for a decade or more. They spoke highly of hevruta, of collegiality, of time for Torah that was truly Lishmah.
My time at Pearlstone was restorative. It was enriching. It was inspiring. Studying with Rabbi Dr. Jeff Rubenstein, Rabbi Dr. Joel Roth, and Rabbi Dan Liben was so powerful. The professional skills were also useful, but the Torah was simply on another plane. I am grateful for having the opportunity to put text in context with Dr. Rubenstein, to think about how to connect Talmudic sources to our modern lives. While I attempt (and regularly fail) at Daf Yomi, I enjoy the breadth of the material, of trying to think about how the rabbis would view our milieu. Dr. Rubenstein really captured that spirit, juxtaposing modern and ancient texts in unique ways. I was especially fond of the Israeli/Bavli intermarriage and comparison to Amelia Bedelia.
Studying with Rabbi Roth is always a pleasure. His digressions are as inspiring as his texts. He finds ways of reminding us of the importance of studying from those we may disagree with, of looking at complicated and challenging issues and finding more positive solutions. He is humorous and serious in a way that shows a living Torah.
Rabbi Liben’s manner of teaching was so gentle and yet so hopeful. He brought an energy and a level of forgiveness that I needed at this time in my life. The texts and practices he shared were a reminder of how we can build a spiritual practice through our sources, our prayers, our liturgy. Again, the Torah he taught was vital, filled with a life force human and Divine.
In our daily lives as rabbis, we strive to be present for our communities and congregants. Sometimes we need a reminder to stop and take care of our own souls, our own bodies, our own spirits, our own hearts and minds. RTI was a sacred gift. It brought me closer to myself, to my friends, my Torah, and to our shared Shechinah, our Divine Presence. It was a holy experience and I returned energized and enlivened. Since I have returned, I have mentioned RTI on a daily basis. The Torah I learned there is one that will be with me always. I cannot wait to sign up for next year.