Image: My Jerusalem class of rabbis-, cantors-, and educators-to-be and spouses who were bound for the Los Angeles campus in 2003. Thirteen of us were eventually ordained as rabbis after four or five more years of study together.
OK, so it isn’t really “camp.” It’s a convention, but it feels like camp to me. You see, Reform rabbis train for years together, first in Jerusalem and then on a U.S. campus. Our classes spend years in each others’ laps, studying and working, drinking too much coffee and studying half the night. We got on each others’ last nerve, and we bonded for life. Then we were ordained and headed off to the ends of the earth. Suddenly that feeling of being one of a litter of puppies fell away and we see one another rarely if at all.
Now take that single class of 10 or 12, and multiply it by all the years since 1960 or so. Add in the beloved mentors, the beloved mentees, the teachers, the coworkers, the boss who used to be scary and now is a colleague. Add opportunity for study with world-class scholars, and chances to get up-to-date on the critical issues of this year, including Israel. Add a display floor full of interesting things (who can afford all that stuff?) and a schedule full of fascinating speakers.
You bet I’m excited.
Right now I’m perched in the lobby, because it’s not quite time for the opening session. I feel the excitement. I’ve stopped several times to chat with friends. All and all, I couldn’t be happier.
In Judaism we talk about the shalshelet masoret, the chain of tradition. All Jews are connected to it one way or another, that sense of connection to the past and the future. I hear the music of that shalshelet, that chain, in the voices around me here in the lobby, voices speaking English and Hebrew, voices full of recognition and pleasure. Young and old, men and women, seasoned veterans and green first-timers, we have come together to fill our heards and heads with Torah.
It’s already good.