Who moved my tefilin?

Six in the morning on a plane to my second Moatzah conference in Sydney. We have been in New Zealand for six months.

Am I the same Israeli rabbi that the congregation met at first? What have I learned so far?

•  Judaism is not just about learning how things were done in the past – it is about how we can do things in a Jewish way today.

•  Halachah is not Orthodox. Halachah is Jewish. It is the way we relate to it as a law or as a resource that defines who we are.

•  To be relevant to contemporary Jewish peoplehood, the rabbi should not try to teach people how to live their lives in a Jewish way. However, a rabbi should try to inspire people to incorporate different Jewish perspectives into the lifestyles they have already chosen for themselves.

•  In 10 years’ time, people will hardly remember what the rabbi taught: they will mostly remember who the rabbi was.

•  I know who I am and where I stand today. Hopefully I will be the same person with a slightly different Jewish perspective tomorrow.

•  The congregants are knowledgeable and are engaged in their Jewish identity. People have different needs and different fields of interest. It is impossible to answer them all – and yet every question is a learning opportunity.

•  When I lead services, I am praying, not delivering a performance.

•  When I pray, I stand in front of God, not in front of the congregation.

•  Rather than seeing changes as good or bad, we can consider them opportunities to explore and challenge ourselves.

•  Making an informed decision requires knowledge. As a rabbi I need to share this knowledge with others, not to impose it as a dogma.

•  There is a big difference between Judaism and ‘Israelism’.

•  Israel is not the land of all Jews. It has become the land of the Orthodox Jews. We need to actively do something about that.

•  New Zealand is amazing, and that’s apart from the scenery.

•  There is yet much to learn.

•  This is harder to do than to acknowledge. I probably won’t be able to live up to it all, but I will pour my heart and soul into it.

•  It is possible.


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