Friday, June 29, 2007

Tie a Yellow Ribbon

Tonight, the new officers of my synagogue will be installed, during our regular erev Shabbat (Sabbath evening) services. I will attend and wish them well.

As a corollary, my sentence as an officer and board member is up.

On the whole, my service in lay leadership has been a net plus for the shul. But to be honest about it, just barely.

It's also been the most severe test of my faith in my adult life.

I derive the most satisfaction when I'm tutoring students who need some help pronouncing or chanting the blessings they will lead at their bar/bat mitzvah.

Also from singing unabashedly during worship.

Even from schlepping furniture, housewares, pots, pans, shoes, kitchen appliances, children's toys and unrecognizable lumps to help set up for our annual "Treasures and Junque" flea market-style fundraiser, last weekend with Monkeyboy.

(He and two other very good kids helped set up the children's toy and stuffed animal area. And he understands he's not too young to do a mitzvah).

I walk away from this experience with enormous admiration for the clergy, professional staff and lay leaders I've been working with. (In one case, where I started out skeptical, I walk away in a state of near hero-worship.)

But some time will have to elapse before my taste for participation in synagogue governance returns. Maybe a lot of time.

The issues and attitudes I've confronted have unsettled me, right down to my bones.

I'm thrilled with the Jewish education Monkeyboy's getting in 2 hour increments, twice/week.

I'm thrilled on Saturday mornings when a bar/bat mitzvah demonstrates hard work in having prepared to lead worship and hard thought in having prepared to teach the congregation about the Torah portion (s)he's just read, in his/her short D'var Torah.

With the alleged adults, I'm less thrilled.

The most interesting dilemmas I've confronted must, of necessity, remain confidential. Mostly out of respect for others. Occasionally, out of embarrassment. And always, because it's not fair to air one side of a story where folks with competing viewpoints have no opportunity to respond.

Throughout the Exodus narrative --- from our miraculously escaping Egypt at the Sea of Reeds, to the Revelation at Sinai, to the 40 years of wandering in the desert to the conquest of Zion --- G-d calls us a "stiff-necked" and "arrogant" people.

Smart Deity, that Almighty. Must have had some experience dealing with the governance of houses of worship.

Because my friends who serve as Elders or Deacons or whatever title their particular denomination uses, tell the same exact stories.


Moonbeam said...

What I see from reading your post is, you are a great asset and they are lucky to have you in whatever you do at the Synagogue and for your faith.

Aunty Christ said...

What moonbeam said--but I see that in all your posts, David, and not just this one. For realsies.

Now, aren't we due for some Ted action soon ...?

Churlita said...

concur with everyone else. It sounds like they were lucky to have you while they did.

laughing said...

So is that it for you? No more annoying meetings and such?

Are you still going to teach the kids?

Mrs. Hairy Woman said...

It's a good experience in the long run.. your son sees that and it instilled him about the trails and tribulations one has with their religion.. Makes them stronger and hard working such as yourself..

mielikki said...

Well, there is a season for everything, right? And it sounds like now can be your "off season" LOL. It sounds like it had its ups and downs. I agree with everyone else. They were lucky to have you!

hu said...

Dealing with certain kinds of adults is very similar to dealing with children. Except they hit harder and drive larger vehicles. Watch out!

Seriously though, there is not a human alive who can't benefit from having his/her patience tested. So kudos to you for enduring that and congratulations on the (apparently much needed!) rest.

David in DC said...

Everybody: I was pretty self-indulgent in this post.

Your responses though, were very uplifting. Thank you.

Aunty: I'll get some new Ted and MiDC pics up soon.

Laughing: Waaaaay fewer annoying meetings.

Yup, I'll keep teaching.

Val said...

hmmm... as a newly impressionable congregant currently being 'wooed' by the temple staff to be more involved in leadership areas, I was glad to read this and will keep it mind as I debate taking next steps in my involvement level.

David in DC said...

Val: I fear EK and I may be painting an unduly gloomy picture for you.

Just start slow and try to take on tasks you can picture enjoying working on.

And especially on tasks working with people whose company you can imagine enjoying.