By Rabbi Rick Sherwin
My former student and now my friend, Randy, asked me a great question: Did I ever have any second thoughts about my career? It is not an unfair question, as most people – at one point or another – ask themselves this very question. My response to him: To be sure, there have been times of questioning. Nevertheless, what has made the choice to be a rabbi rewarding is the continuity of personal relationships.
There are families who have invited me to participate with tears of joy: weddings, baby welcoming ceremonies, Bat/Bar Mitzva services and celebrations, conversions, anniversaries, and graduations. There have also been – often in the same families – tears of sadness: divorce, death, and hospital visits.
I am so honored to be in touch with young people who stood on the bima with me as B’nai Mitzva, and who are now raising children (in one case grandchildren) of their own. It is an honor to stand under the wedding canopy with former students, and meaningful to share with the new generation of parents my memories of their grandparents. The personal touch offers meaningful continuity both to these individuals and their families and to me as their rabbi and mentor.
In the Talmud, Rabbi Judah shares a profound insight: Much have I learned from my teachers and even more from my colleagues, but most of all have I learned from my students. Recently, I had the privilege to spend time with former students from whom I continue to learn: Mack, who has completed his first year at Michigan, Eric who graduates FSU, and Randy who will be graduating FSU later in the year.
The strength of Jewish religious life is not physical space; it is the personal face.
Rabbi Rick Sherwin, a graduate of UCLA, was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. Rabbi Rick’s passion is filling spiritual services and interfaith educational programs with creativity, relevance, dialogue, and humor.