Community Blog Finding the Right Place
Looking back, I see there were clues. The bread crumbs had been piling up for a while: when I realized I’d become that rarest of creatures, the childless young adult who joins a congregation and gets involved; when my spouse and I became adult B’nei Mitzvah, with our six-month-old son sitting on my dad’s lap in the congregation; when that child turned five, and I followed him into his day school kindergarten class every morning so I could learn the prayers.
His first grade Hebrew teacher would give me easy books to practice reading, staying after school to talk to me about them while I nursed the baby.
I got involved with local organizations, became a “Jew about town.” I attended services and sang in choirs and organized Limmud festivals. I kept having these interesting encounters — with other people and with the Divine — moments that left me glowing with excitement and curiosity. What was I doing with my life? Was I in the right place?
Eventually the whispers in my mind became an insistent voice, ever louder. I mentioned it to the kids.
“What would you think if I were to become a rabbi?”
The elder thought it would be “cool.” The younger was worried he would have to go to shul more often.
Neither one said, “Ima, don’t do it.” I took that as an encouraging sign.
Still, I wondered about carpool and meal planning and the details of life. I worried and waited and rationalized that it was too late, or it was for someone else.
One summer evening, as fireflies glimmered, I talked it over with a friend. She said to me, “You are being called. Who do you think is calling you?”
I’d heard about Ta Sh’ma, Hebrew College’s Open House for rabbinical and cantorial students, for a couple of years, even picked up a flyer once when I passed through the Hebrew College lobby on my way to a meeting or a rehearsal.
With my heart in my hands, I signed up to attend. There I experienced gorgeous davening, mind-blowing insights, spacious conversation, friendly and welcoming students. Including students who were making it work, even with children at home. I saw folks whose calling came in an unlikely season, like a whisper that grew insistent, or like an itch that wouldn’t go away.
Once I decided, all those fearsome details started to make sense. Our community helped us in myriad ways, keeping the kids on the playground until I got out of class and made my way to school pickup, and making sure we had invitations to meals when I was scheduled to lead services, so I didn’t have to cook too. My spouse got on board with taking on more of the mental and physical labor of running a household. The children grew into their roles as helpers, they saw their jobs as important and necessary. They learned how to cook and put away laundry and ask each other the questions they had always asked me. We all learned to relax about a messy house.
Now I am beginning Shanah Bet. My life is full of learning and leading and exploring. Every day brings deep questions and new understandings and more blessings than I ever could have imagined. I know that I am in the right place.
Our liturgy tells us not only to love God with all our hearts, with our very being, with all that we are and more—but also to teach this love earnestly to our children, with every kiss goodnight and every ride to school. As a parent who is also a student, I have a unique and precious opportunity to show my children that learning is a lifelong endeavor, that growing closer to the Divine is a priceless gift, and that it is never too late or too hard to become who we are meant to be.
Naomi Gurt Lind is a student at the Rabbinical School of Hebrew College in Newton Centre, Ma. Learn more about our pluralistic rabbinical and cantorial programs at this year’s Ta Sh’ma (Come & Hear) Open House. Learn more and register for our virtual and/or our in-person Open House.