Last night, 9 incredible people were officially ordained as Conservative Judaism’s newest Rabbis. As one woman put it, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room except for Rabbi Artson, whose smile covered his whole face. Held at the immaculate Temple Sinai, the ceremony was rich, loving and inspiring.
The service started with music from Rabbi Lizzi Heydemann (what a voice!), followed by speakers Rabbi Alexander, Dr. Rabbi Wexler and Rabbi Artson, all of whom were powerfully moving. Reb Mimi shared words of spirituality and Torah as she fought back tears of joy. But in between our speakers, newly ordained Rabbi D’ror (second from the left on top row of students) spoke and taught on behalf of the entire class.
Rabbi D’ror spoke of ‘the other’ – of a Rabbi in antiquity who was shunned out of his community. As he looked to his class, he mentioned the names of each person, reminding them that only 30 years ago, this night would not have been possible. Be it gender, sexual orientation, family heritage or cultural background, most of the panel for a reason or another would not have been able to be ordained. But thanks to the commitment of Conservative Judaism, an affiliation that fights for authenticity in Torah and the needs of people in the modern world, everyone on that bima was able to fulfill their dream and continue to do the real work of Tikkun O’lam, for the world and within the Jewish people.
Had you been there, you would have heard plenty of cheering, screams and whistling from the entire audience….of several hundred people. Current students were filled with hopes that “God & Zevit willing” (the toughest teacher at Ziegler), we too would be on that bima – as community members experienced one of the neatest happenings for the Jewish people today.
As the ceremony closed out with a beautiful guitar-strumming niggun, the back doors opened up as a delightful reception began. Tears, dancing and laughter broke through the room as people celebrated their dear loved ones and began to say goodbye to the 8 of the 9 that will be leaving LA within the next month; Texas, Atlanta, Oklahoma, New Orleans….just to name a few.
That was quite the experience. I’m really going to miss my Rabbis, as there were a few I became quite close to. But, from what I’ve gathered over this year and through my rabbis….BECOMING RABBI is no easy feat. Hard work, sleepless nights, commitment and dedication are only a few ingredients needed to complete the process. Last night all the students were blessed with ‘tough skin’ and the ‘ability to forget’ as they prepare for the real world. I know that each person is going to make a huge and meaningful impact on the community he/she is placed in. Conservative Jews, we have MUCH to celebrate and be excited about!