(Originally published in RRA Connections)
My rabbinate has called to me an ever-expanding circle of spiritual seekers, God-lovers, and many who have felt excluded from traditional community practice.
As I reach out and invite my students onto a path of spiritual adventure and exploration, my intention is to let them know that their path is unique and precious, AND that we walk this path together. I let them know that Judaism can offer amazing and useful resources for transformation and a rich and beautiful language to express the ineffable.
My calling is to connect each of them with the wisdom of their own heart — to the Spirit of Guidance. I let them know that the spark of God is waiting within them to burst into flame, if only we might bring to it our loving, consistent and passionate attention. The best way I know to welcome others onto this path of transformation is by cultivating an inner radiance myself, and by offering Jewish spiritual practices that are beautiful, practical and compelling. I want to accept each of my students as fellow journeyers, in process. I look for their potential in order to draw it forth. I continually let go of judgment. As a teacher that works in groups I want to inspire collaboration and generosity, and I do that by appreciating our differences, our unique contributions. I want to let each person know how essential and integral they are to the whole. I want to express an enthusiasm for spiritual work that is contagious. I recognize resistance as an important aspect of that work and I am dedicated to unmasking that resistance in all its manifestations.
My model for sacred space is the Mishkan. In my leadership I am responding to the call that says, ועשו לי מקדש ושכנתי בתוכם: — “Make for me a holy place so that I can dwell within, among, between you.” (Ex. 25:8) A holy place is one that invites and welcomes diversity, collaboration, humor, truth-telling, beauty, radical embodiment, and a spaciousness at its core. It exists for the purpose of calling in to that spaciousness the awareness of a great Mystery. However beautiful we make that Mishkan, it is really the spaciousness within it that will heal us. The Mishkan itself is the invitation, the lure, the beauty that calls us in to be transformed by Divine Presence. As rabbis, we bring all the rich and myriad forms of Wisdom, love, beauty and kindness in order to inspire us to step inside to the Holy of Holies, and finally surrender.
The art of hospitality calls me to learn many different spiritual languages so that I can find the one that speaks to the one who stands before me. The art of hospitality calls me to heal my own wounds of exclusion so that I don’t project them onto others. The art of inclusion calls me to cultivate curiosity about our differences, and awareness about my own triggers. I need to keep asking, “Who am I not seeing? Who has become invisible to me?”
I offer support and compassion rather than safety. The spiritual path is supremely risky as we let go of everything that we know and step into the unknown, as we let go of the small self and open to the vastness of our identity in God.