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The answer:  “I have no idea.”

The question? The one that virtually everyone asks within 60 seconds of learning that I’m studying to be a rabbi: “How long will that take you?”

I’m always a little flummoxed when they ask.  I expect questions such as, “Why do you want to be a rabbi?” and “What will you do when you graduate?” and “Do you have to move to Israel for a year?”

(The answers: 1. I don’t have a choice; I simply must. 2. I’m not sure, but it would be great to be a congregational rabbi. 3. No.)

But why ask how long it will take?  Because I’m (relatively speaking) old. At 54, people don’t expect a person to embark on a new career, and certainly not on a course of study that will take years to complete.

By the way, it’s taken me nearly two years to figure this out.  Which must mean that I’m a slow learner, because I’ve been asked the question countless times.  Which also might mean that it’s going to take me a really long time before I’m ordained.  Or not.  Maybe it means that I just don’t understand the question.

In my opinion, age is irrelevant.  So what if I won’t have a 40 year career?  Is that worth missing the chance to have a 5 or 10 or 15 year career?

Many years ago I read an article about a 63-year-old woman who had just graduated from medical school. I thought then (and still today) that was fantastic.

When I began to consider rabbinical school seriously, I protested to a friend that I’d be 60 years old when I finished.  Her response was simple and obvious. She pointed out that I’ll be 60 anyway – why not be a rabbi too?

My new answer to the question?  “I don’t know, and I don’t care.  I’m just happy to be alive and doing what I love.”