A Stinging Lesson that Stuck
Amber Powers is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship Program. Rabbi Powers serves as the Dean of Admissions and Recruitment at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I was always a very good student. I loved learning and was very self-motivated. Most of my learning came easily to me. Half-way through rabbinical school, I was surprised to find myself struggling to fully understand the material in a Jewish philosophy course. The course required each student to give a class presentation teaching a specific set of material to the rest of the class. When my turn arrived I was very nervous, knowing that my grasp on the material was shaky. I gave my presentation and waited for my professor’s response. “Amber, your presentation was compelling but not particularly accurate” he said. His words stung. My professor saw the embarrassment on my face and said, “No, no – it is more important for rabbis to be compelling than accurate.” I think he was trying to comfort me by acknowledging that he knew I had worked hard and had strong presentation skills.
This experience was an important learning moment for me. I realized that I may have the ability to fake my way through a challenge but that doing so feels awful and is a disservice to me and to those I teach. I gained a clearer understanding of the type of rabbi and leader I aspired to be- one as fully committed to content as to presentation.