(New to Shabbos Blessings? Learn more here. ALSO, Hanukkah update/request: I’m still operating with a blessing deficit to get me through all 40 weeks. There are 8 nights of Hanukkah, and it would be super cool if I could get 8 blessings before it’s over– which is New Years Eve, for those playing along at home. So, if you’re so inclined, send me a blessing in the next couple of weeks! Thanks!)
10 years ago at this time I was coming out of a terrible sophomore slump at Macalester College. The beginning of my second year there was awful. I felt disconnected socially and confused academically. My family was going through a difficult stretch, and being in Minnesota while they were in New Jersey was tough to say the least. To be honest, I don’t remember many specifics about that time. What I do remember is that, during Thanksgiving break, which I spent with dear friends in Minnesota rather than flying home, I suddenly realized that everything was ok. I remembered that I was cared for. I remembered that I had value. That was when Mac, and the Twin Cities, became a second home.
On the whole, I loved my experience at Macalester, and I think it’s safe to say that I would not have decided to become a rabbi without the influence of the chaplains I worked with there. My four years there opened me up to so many possibilities of what it could mean to be spiritual and religious and liberal and social justice-oriented. I worked for the Center for Religious and Spiritual Life for two years. I served on the Multifaith Council for three. I was involved in the pluralistic Macalester Jewish Organization for all four. Today, my dream job would be to be a Jewish Chaplain or Hillel Rabbi at a small liberal arts school like Mac. I think I would never leave.
Why am I thinking about Mac today? Because, incredibly, the chaplains who worked there when I was a student are still in my life. I’m so grateful for that. The rabbi there, the one I call “my rabbi” to this day, has been a source of support for me since I was 20. He’s even helped me begin to build a rabbinic bookshelf with volumes from his own collection. The minister who was dean of religious and spiritual life when I was a student has since moved on to another university, but we’ve stayed in touch and I continue to look to her as a model of how to be a pastoral presence to people from many faiths. I also still connect with the Jesuit Priest who served at Macalester while I was there, and I have him to thank for today’s blessing:
“Knowing more surely who you are in God’s eyes and ever growing in gratitude, may you continue to trust God’s invitation to give of yourself in ways that bring healing and hope to all of creation.” God bless you Emily.
It seems fitting that this blessing comes up now, just after my health scare, when gratitude is flowing more than ever. In a lot of ways, this week has felt like a border between one chapter of my time here and another. Although fear is no longer pinning me down, I’ve had to actively remind myself of my health, to reset my mind, to remember that everything is ok. I’m glad to be going into shabbat tonight, and next week I intend to resettle fully into my normal self, with creative projects and academic motivation galore.
For now, I leave you with a picture of this donut. It’s sufganiyot season in Israel now, and while any old jelly donut will technically do, most bakeries here take the charge of donut crafting very seriously (think of it as the closest we get to Christmas cookies). This one has its own jelly syringe so as not to mess with the integrity of the pastry before consumption.