Now Playing: The Verve - Bittersweet Symphony
Yesterday, I had my last reflection group. Honestly, I loved my group. It was lead by Dean Marmur and Sima Haruv and my four fellow classmates were honest, open, and very receptive to reflecting on both good, bad, and everything in between. I couldn't have asked for a better group. I also thought that we ended quite beautifully yesterday. Sima and Marmur handed out a list of questions that are intended to be a part of the goals of the cirriculum of HUC, questions that students will be able to critically reflect on after their time in school at HUC. They asked us to look over them and pick one that we would answer.
Here were the questions:
1) What does it mean to be human?
2) What do we believe about human nature and questions such as good and evil?
3) How to provide meaning to human existence in a Jewish way? Why be Jewish?
4) What is the nature of the universe? history? Is it planned? What is its end? Is there meaning to Jewish history?
5) What is the role of Israel, both the land and the people? What is its role in our lives?
6) How do we bring to bear a progessive Jewish outlook upon all that we do and believe?
7) How do we understand the nature of the Jewish tradition?
8) How do we lead Jewish lives?
9) How do we integrate critical thinking and a personal search for meaning?
10) How can we be a part of an interpretive tradition, yet maintain our autonomy?
11) Are there limits to rationality and how do we respond?
12) What does it mean to define Reform as an orientation and not as a canon?
13) What does lifelong Torah study mean? How should it express itself?
14) What is our responsibility to the Jewish community? The larger human community?
15) How do we function as Jews in a pluralistic world?
After everyone responded, the Dean of our Jerusalem campus said: "What a great way to spend your life...getting to ponder and figure out your own answers to these questions."
I couldn't have said it better myself.
I really feel that this year has solidified a lot of things for me. And I feel a lot more connections to many things that I ever did before. Now, after this year, I FULLY understand why I want to become a rabbi. I also have a greater sense of what it will take in the next four years to make me one. I finally feel a real connection to Torah text and to Jewish text and to discovering what there is behind it, in it, and around it. I feel an unbelievable connection to the land of Israel and it's people. I am a passionate Reform Jewish Zionist and I can't wait to share my love of Israel and my support for it with others.
In a lot of ways, those questions have more or less summed up my year and the struggles I've dealt with and thought about this year.
I'm having lots of emotions and bittersweet feelings about leaving, but I feel wholly refreshed and renewed and passionate about the road ahead of me and the choice I have made to do all of this. This year, for better or for worse, had tons of challenges, was incredibly thought provoking and educational and fun and intense and hard. But somewhere in the middle of it, I grew as a person, as a Jew, as a rabbincal student, as a human being. Undoubtedly, this has been the most incredible and memorable year of my life. But more than that, I'm coming away from this year with the gift of reassurance in my life choices, with passion and zeal, and with an excitement to bring back what I've gained, to others. It will be so hard to leave here...but I know I'll be back. And I can't wait to see where I am at in life when I return and what new things I can gain.
I am lucky. I've found a profession that lets me do what I love, lets me feel challenged every day in every way, and helps me to grow as a person and a Jew during my life. I get to spend my life pondering and working on answers to those 15 questions. I am so blessed.