Friday, January 22, 2010

The Actor's Nightmare - Rabbi Style

Are you familiar with the phenomenon of the "Actor's Nightmare?" It is a dream that many, many people in the performing arts have at some point, in some way, shape or form. Typically, in this dream, you find yourself about to go on stage for a performance for which you are completely unprepared. There is a deep sense of anxiety that corresponds with this dream, a lack of control, and a general "sucky" feeling.

I have had a variation of this dream, on and off, for my entire life.

Well, folks, I had a RABBI version of the dream a few nights ago!

I dreamt that was almost ready to go out onto the bimah (the "stage" in a sanctuary) when I realized, in a total panic, that I had forgotten to prepare for both a baby naming and a wedding blessing. I didn't have the materials with me, I hadn't created the requisite certificates, and I didn't even know their names!

I told the cantor to go ahead and start without me, while I scrambled up and down stairs, down long hallways, and through my files, looking for all the info. Of course, at some point, I lost my glasses, so I couldn't see while having to do all of this.

I made it back to the bimah, with all the paperwork, only to find that I had missed the entire service. The cantor was finishing up, and everyone was on their way out.

I found the baby naming family in the lobby, apologized profusely, tried to fudge my way through something resembling a blessing, and gave them a hastily prepared certificate. Bleh!

You can only guess how I felt as I woke up....

Have you ever had one of these?!??!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Working my way through the Oscar Films....

Based on various lists published by Entertainment Weekly, my friend, Mike's, movie review site, and others, I have been trying to see as many Oscar-worthy movies as possible.

So, most recently, I've seen (500) Days of Summer; Star Trek; District 9; The Hangover, and, Inglourious Basterds. All four were just as amazing as everyone said.

(500) Days of Summer totally broke my heart while totally uplifting my spirit. The movie, which covers, in non-chronological order, the 500 days of a relationship between the two main characters, is an emotional roller coaster.... but not in a bad way. I was in physical distress towards the end of the movie, but also ready to go out and fall in love.

As a pretty big fan of the various incarnations of "Star Trek," I really loved the new Star Trek movie. The action was exciting, the nods to the original series and its beloved cliches were adorable, and the ending was moving. Loved it!

District 9 was... gosh, how to even put it? So creative, so ground-breaking, so surprising. A profound statement about racism, apartheid, and bigotry, all in the guise of a sci-fi alien flick. Brilliant all around.

The Hangover was absolutely hilarious, and was all the more fun because I left for Las Vegas a few days later! Great writing, terrific acting, and mind-bending plot points.

Inglourious Basterds, a perfect addition to Quentin Tarantino's oeuvre, has been described as a "revenge fantasy." It made me want to scream out in victory as the Jewish characters slaughtered the nazis, but also made me want to cry over the fact that it was all mere fiction. Boy, did I wish this one was a documentary!

Did you see these? What did you think?

Friday, January 1, 2010

Reflecting on the past decade....

Last night, as we approached midnight, Lindsay and I were reminiscing about where we were 10 years ago. The year 2000 was upon us, and we were in Jerusalem.

I was in my first year of rabbinical school at HUC-JIR, on the Jerusalem campus. I lived there for one year, and Lindsay was kind enough to come out for a visit over winter break. We were so afraid that either, a) the world would end (Y2K, etc) as midnight approached, or b) some crazy group would decide to decimate Jerusalem. Thus, my class chose to celebrate the new year at school, a few yards from a bomb shelter. We were overlooking the Jaffa Gate to the Old City, and we watched as Christian pilgrims carried torches into the gated city. It was majestic, awe-inspiring, and even a little terrifying.

Nothing happened, of course, but there was nowhere else I wanted to be as the new decade began (and, yes, I know that, technically the decade began in 2001, but no one seems to count that way).

What an amazing way to enter the new decade.

Here are some highlights of the decade in my life:

  1. Moved to New York for the duration of rabbinical school in August, 2000.
  2. Ended the engagement to my college fiance, started to figure out who I truly was for the first time - Fall, 2000
  3. Appeared on the short-lived Oxygen Network game show, "Trackers," and won! (a karaoke machine, naturally!!) - Fall, 2000
  4. Adopted my calico, Precious, in January, 2001
  5. Developed a long-standing passion for KARAOKE!
  6. Began a two-year student pulpit in Brandon, FL at Congregation Beth Shalom - learned so much about being a rabbi - 2001-2003
  7. Lindsay moved to NYC, and in with me, in 2002
  8. Was in a longterm relationship from 2003-2007
  9. Ordained as a rabbi in 2004
  10. Worked at an amazing NYC congregation for five years (2004-2009)
  11. Started THIS BLOG in February, 2007!
  12. Underwent successful spinal fusion surgery in December, 2007
  13. Joined the Temple B'nai Torah family in Wantagh as their rabbi this past summer.
So much to celebrate - and these are just a few of the highlights. Wishing you all a blessed 2010 filled with light, joy, and love. Here's to another terrific year!!