A Rabbinical Student's Blog

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Kehillot Kedoshot (Posting #2): Day 2, Morning

Drew and havrusa JillStarting off our day with davening wasn’t so grand, as the מחיצה (separate seating) service did not achieve a full minyan. Afterwards, I went to the fitness center and used the elliptical, which was a great way to start off my day. Following which, I came into breakfast [a bit late, due to my exercise escapade] into the midst of a guided conversation about this work at a table of rabbis and rabbinical students, which was a helpful conversation to have. Immediately right after the breakfast discussion, we had our first בית מדרש (beit midrash) session, in which we looked at some of the texts regarding Moshe and the burning bush incident as well as some midrashim on this and examined it with questions guiding us to look at the scene through the lens of social organizing.
One term that kept popping up during the speakers who spoke after we had looked at the texts was “covenantal relationship”. I was immediately bothered by it because it was assumed we all knew what this term meant while I had never heard of the term, but moreso after figuring out, to some degree, what they meant by it. Eventually, I came to understand that they meant by this some sort relationship that's built up between people that creates some sort of relational imperative. It bothered me mainly because the paradigmatic covenantal relationship - the Sinaitic covenant - seemed to be unimportant for many of the attendees of the conference. This was somewhat frustrating to me, I think, because my main connection to Judaism comes through this covenant and to see it ignored by many of my correligionists is sad to me.
Following this session, we had our next (second) training session of the conference. For this session, we had two options: go to one on "The Art of One-to-One Conversations" and one on "Cultivating Personal Narrative". As I had heard a lot over the last semester on one-to-ones and knew nothing of the latter, I chose the latter. I made the right choice. I got the most out of this session than any other in the conference. I struggle, myself, with narrating my personal stories and this skill is something that is important for oratorical performances, which is a must for a rabbi. Two very important points that came through in this presentation were to, aside from telling a story (which includes a context, a protagonist, an antagonist (the last two of which provide a tension), a climax, and a resolution), revealing oneself is important and the other is to use a calculated vulnerability. One last point that I caught during this session was interesting about relationships in this social justice work was that they are not relationships of charity, but, rather, relationships of solidarity.

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  • Hi Drew,
    I would caution you to recognize that for many of the attendees, even though they were not Orthodox the notion of a Sinaitic covenant is a powerful motivating factor in their lives.
    I also find it difficult at times to appreciate the religious strivings of co-religionists who choose to not affiliate Orthodox but while recognizing our differences and without diminishing the emet of Torah mi-Sinai and halakha, we can still appreciate the religious strivings and yearnings of our non-Orthodox sisters and brothers.

    By Blogger rabbiben, At Sunday, February 18, 2007  

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