General Rabbinic spirituality WorkPlace Spirituality

Transitions Suck

Transitions suck, which is why I am writing a blog post at 6:20 AM on a morning when my alarm is set for 8 AM. After about 2 hours of not sleeping, I decided to get up. I don’t know that I can blame my sleepnessness entirely on my upcoming transition out of Temple Beth Sholom, but I might give it a shot.

Over the next three to four weeks I will cease to be the rabbi of Temple Beth Sholom. I have been with the congregation for a year as interim rabbi, fulfilled my function, and will be moving back to full time at CubeSpace. I face this transition with extremely mixed feelings. On the one hand, I’ll be glad to leading a somewhat less chaotic existence, no longer splitting my time between Portland and Salem, between CubeSpce and the rabbinate. On the other hand, I’m very much going to miss working with the congregation.

I believe in better living through chemistry, and think that antidepressants are a good thing to help one through transitions. The ability to make change with the somewhat stabilizing influence of an antidepressant is one of the minor miracles of modern society. Nonetheless, change causes stress, sleepless nights and ideally provides an opportunity for reflection.

I look back over the last year, and am  struck by how far I’ve come as a rabbi. When I started in Salem, I was scared that I wouldn’t be a “good” rabbi. I’d never really done the congregational rabbinate, outside of a student pulpit, and wasn’t sure how I’d do, or whether I could really do the job. At the end of the year, I recognize that I’ve done a good job, and am delighted the congregation seems to agree with me. I’ve made a difference in people’s lives, and in their relationship to Judaism and spirituality. I’ve prepared the congregation well for my successor, creating a situation wherein he has a better chance of sucess.By pretty much any measure I might use, I feel like I’ve succeeded as a rabbi this year.

That being said, it doesn’t necessarily make transitioning out easier. In some ways, it makes the change harder. It is difficult to move away from doing something you are good at, and enjoy, even the change means you’ll have more time for something else you are good at and enjoy. It is difficult to leave the people I’ve grown close to over the last year, but part of my job as an interim rabbi is to get out of the way now that my time is done, and let my successor have a clean slate to work with, without me hanging around.

And so, today, I had down to Salem, recognizing that there are only 3 more Thursday when I will make this weekly pilgramage which has been so much a part of my life over the last year. And I’ll begin to try to clean up/out my office.

Edit: I finished writing this, and then went and read some of the blogs I read, and was reminded that as transitions go, mine isn’t so bad. I’ve been following the blog of a woman  who recently lost her husband, and has been blogging about it extensively. I’ve found her courage breathtaking, her suffering heartbreaking. The account begins here.

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