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Thursday, July 8, 2010

PLEASE don’t ask me why I signed up for a series of retreats on Jewish spirituality.  In a moment of true weakness, I decided it would be a good idea to go to something called the Davvenin’ Leadership Training Institute, aka DLTI.  The first of four week-long sessions starts later this month.

But let’s be real.  Can you see me spending a week meditating, dancing, drumming, and being touchy-feely with 60 strangers in the backwoods of Connecticut?  These people have silent breakfasts, for goodness sakes!  News flash — the 60’s ended a long time ago.  And I was pretty awkward back then too.

Why would I do such a thing? Well… in my defense, it sounded like a good idea at the time.  It still sounds like a good idea — a big part of my job in leading synagogue services is helping my congregants have a spiritual experience, so learning how to do that is a good thing.  Right?  And I enjoy a nice spiritual high as much as the next person.

Plus, I already owned the first book they require, Lawrence Hoffman’s “The Art of Public Prayer.”  Hoffman rarely strays into the spiritual realm — he’s more prone to say things like: “When a spatial arrangement with which we are familiar serves as a model for another space that is new to us, the model environment is called a cultural analogue.” (pg 233, and I promise, all I did was open the book at random; there was no need to hunt for this quote).

But then the next book came along, Rabbi Marcia Prager’s “The Path of Blessing.”  Marcia Prager doesn’t fool around with technical language.  She’s all about the juicy stuff, such as: “When I greet you with ‘shalom’ I am not  merely saying ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye.’  I am offering you my hope and desire that you should experience the bliss of wholeness, fulfillment, completeness, and perfection, that you should know true inner peace.” (page 73, and no, I didn’t have to hunt for that either).

And here’s the worst part — Marcia Prager is one of the people who created this retreat in the first place, and she’ll be there.  I’m a little terrified of meeting her because she might think that I’m a shallow, semi-sarcastic impostor who has no business trying to be a spiritual leader, much less a rabbi.

The other founder of DLTI is Rabbi Shawn Zevit.  He’s the reason that I’m not truly petrified about this.  Shawn is deeply spiritual and pretty touchy-feely, but not in a way that creeps me out — in fact, I like him and admire his style as a service-leader.  The man knows how to pray, that’s for sure.  I figure if I’m already comfortable with him, maybe I’ll be comfortable with the whole thing.  Either way, I’m sure to learn something about myself.

There’s no going back now.  It’s paid for, I have my airline ticket, and I’m just going to have to suck it up and learn to let go a little.  As long as they don’t try to make me let go a lot, it should be OK.

Posted by SRQ Jew at 4:39 PM


Anonymous said…

I can’t imagine you not fitting in in any environment let alone one that has a spiritual overview. By the time you’re done they will be in awe of you. All the best. Joe shoes

July 8, 2010 5:17 PM

Terry B said…

You can do it. And we want to hear about it on a daily basis.July 8, 2010 6:01 PM

SRQ Jew said…

Thanks Joe and Terry, and also to Claire and Wendy who sent me e-mails saying essentially the same thing.This is what friends are for!! I’m happy and lucky to have all of you by my side for this big adventure called life.July 8, 2010 7:02 PM

Anonymous said…

Well, I always thought of you as one of my most touchy feely friends…..soooooo..go have fun..as they say “try it, you’ll like it!” BetsyJuly 8, 2010 9:49 PM