a new spring

(probably not) cherry blossoms in scott circle; photo by salem pearce

Yesterday, Saturday, was a gorgeous day here in the nation’s capital. It was sunny and 70 degrees, and Shabbat was made sweeter by the fact that I had found out the day before that I was accepted at the third rabbinical school to which I applied. After morning services, I sat in Dupont Circle with my husband and felt like I could relax for the first time in at least six months. I read (Patti Smith’s Just Kids) and took a few photographs (right and below).

Yesterday felt like a new beginning in another way, as well: I led part of the Shabbat morning service for the first time! Sixth & I hosted a Learner’s Minyan in the morning, led by Rabbi Shira Stutman. The rabbi who is teaching my adult b’nai mitzvah class, Lauren Holtzblatt, arranged for the class to lead the parts of the service that we’re planning to in June during the official ceremony. I’ve volunteered for the second half of the Torah service (putting the scroll away) and for the mourner’s kaddish.

st. patrick’s day green grass at dupont circle; photo by salem pearce

Unfortunately, the past month of travel hasn’t left me any time to practice, so I had to beg off of the Torah service part. I decided to go ahead with the mourner’s kaddish, which I realized while I was leading is actually a little unnerving. The only people who are standing and reciting most of the prayer with the leader are the few in mourning or observing a yahrzeit (although I did ask those whose custom it is to stand to do so). Even so, I could only hear myself in the large sanctuary that was hardly filled, and saying the mourner’s kaddish by (what feels like just) myself is quite different than saying the hatzi kaddish with the whole congregation, when it doesn’t matter if I stumble over a word or two. I’ve got some practicing to do.

Despite my nerves, though, I was able to say to the congregation yesterday that I was leading and saying the mourner’s kaddish for the family of Trayvon Martin. This clear abrogation of justice has troubled me all week: I am proud and privileged to be an American, but I sometimes loathe my country’s institutions.

But the long road is coming to an end: I’ve gotten into (in alphabetical order) Hebrew College (in Boston), HUC-JIR (in New York), and Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (in Philadelphia). I am tentatively leaning towards one school, and I am pretty sure it will be a choice between two of them. But I’m not ready to make that intention more explicit at this point.

I now move on to the decision-making part of the process, which I hope to wrap up in the next few weeks. Stay tuned!

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