As an assistant rabbi, I'd found a rhythm: simple Friday night meals with friends; long, lazy Saturday afternoons to myself. Someday, I hoped to be partnered, and develop a new system, similar to my senior rabbi and his wife.
If you want to ask your (future) rabbi a personal question, it should be: “How can we best support you?”
A few years ago, I wrote a blog post comparing rabbinical placement to dating. It was meant to be lighthearted advice for my colleagues as they searched for “the one”: a congregation that would nurture and challenge them during the next phase of their career. Now, as some of my new colleagues enter the job market for the first time, I have some advice for the search committees.
It wasn’t until people started calling me on Wednesday to express their condolences for “my loss” that I realized that I am grieving. I’m not grieving because I am disappointed that we didn’t shatter the glass ceiling, or because my party didn’t “win.” I am grieving because a candidate was elected to this country’s highest office by running on a platform of hatred and fear. I am grieving for the America I knew, for all of the setbacks that women and minorities are going to suffer, and for all the progress that was about to be undone.
The 21st century in general, and this season in particular, is a high stakes time in the congregational rabbinate. Taking a break from my annual scramble to produce four 20-minute sermons that will change the course of history (that’s really what it feels like), I had the opportunity to re-read some High Holy Day words that actually did change the course of history.
On July 28, I watched, with tears in my eyes, as former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first woman to be nominated as a presidential candidate by a major political party. Whatever your politics—this is not a political post—it was incredible to watch another glass ceiling shatter and heartwarming to imagine what this moment will mean for all of the young girls, staying up late to hear Clinton’s speech.
A few weeks ago, I found myself eyeing a pair of socks decorated with typewriters. I used to love stuff like this, I thought, Why don’t I wear crazy socks anymore?
Oh yeah, I remembered, I’m a rabbi now.
But as I prepared to place the socks back on the rack, I wondered, Why can’t a rabbi wear crazy socks? More importantly, Why can’t I, as a rabbi, wear crazy socks?
My rabbinical association recently asked me to join their mentoring program. This request felt surreal to me. Eight years after ordination is practically nothing in terms of rabbinical experience, and, at 34, I’m still younger than some new ordinees. For much of my career, I’ve been told that I couldn’t possibly have enough “life experience” to be a rabbi myself. What could I possibly teach a colleague?
I have always found women’s seders perplexing, ever since my mother first dragged me to one when I was a teenager. To me, Passover is a family holiday, and it felt wrong to exclude half of our family from the celebration. I also didn’t understand why, instead of telling the story of the Exodus, we toasted Bella Abzug and Henrietta Szold.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Leah Berkowitz ." (Viewed on May 28, 2017) <https://jwa.org/blog/author/leah-berkowitz>.