A Time for Silence
Rachel Isaacs is an alumna of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program. She is a fourth year rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary and is the rabbinic intern at the Park Slope Jewish Center. She can be reached at email@example.com
I am the type of person who likes large stages and grand gestures. As a general rule, I compensate for the shortness of my stature with the volume of my voice. However, this past Purim, I assumed a new role. At the beginning of morning services, my rabbi realized that a few of the megillah readers had not returned from the night before. She asked me to quickly prepare and read part of the scroll. I often relish these kinds of challenges and the opportunities to “show my stuff” to the congregation where I serve as the rabbinic intern. However, a member had commented to me earlier that she had prepared these texts in case others did not show up. I saw the look on her face when the rabbi approached me, and so I declined – if a congregant had put in the time to pinch hit, the kavod should be hers.
A few minutes later, the woman approached the scroll, read, and began to smile. The moment passed for me with little significance. When services ended, groggers were strewn across the sanctuary floor, multi-colored handouts were left on the wooden pews, and candy was ground into the floor. The room emptied, and the rabbi and I looked at one another, thankful that the morning activities had ended. Then she looked at me and said, “When you gave up that opportunity to read, Rachel, I knew that you were ready to be a rabbi.”