First Father’s Day is special for rabbi

BY SARAH WILSON, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

This upcoming Father’s Day will be the first time B’nai El’s Rabbi Daniel Plotkin can celebrate his newly acquired fatherhood after his first son, Ari Brian Plotkin, was born in January.

He plans on celebrating the holiday with a visit from his parents who are from out of town, and an inter-congregational softball game that is scheduled for that day, in which he will participate.

Balancing family life and being a rabbi at the same time can be difficult, he said, but he’s making everything work.

“Every profession has its different things about it, but I think being a rabbi or any other type of religious leader can definitely make for some interesting situations,” Plotkin said. “I’m still getting used to the role. It’s definitely new. I’ve been a camp counselor, a rabbi and a teacher, and a father encompasses so much more than those narrow roles. I’m in awe of the fact that everything I do with him now can affect the type of person he becomes.”

Members of B’nai El are always asking to see his son. At night services they always ask for him, he said, but the services often take place during Ari’s bedtime so it’s hard to please everyone.

He said family life was probably harder for rabbis in the past, and these days a rabbi can keep his private life to himself a bit more. Congregations enjoy the presence of children more. One reason for this is the increasing number of women rabbis.

“When he comes to work with me, everyone’s looking and everyone wants to say hello,” Plotkin said. “B’nai El couldn’t have been more welcoming or more generous to us. Unlike some of the other kids, everyone will know who he is, and everyone will be looking at him because he’s the rabbi’s son.”

The moment he said he looked forward to most was when the baby naming took place, and Plotkin had the role of a rabbi and a father.

“For the first time ever I had to do both, and it got a little confusing,” Plotkin said. “That’s what is most meaningful to me, is that I’m no longer leading the service, I’m participating in it also. I have the privilege to both lead the blessing and of participating in the blessing as well.”

During a Passover seder in the temple this year, Plotkin’s wife, Rachel, was trying to get Ari to fall asleep. Instead, Ari continuously heard his father’s voice in the microphone and kept looking for him around the room.

Nothing is definite, but Plotkin said he and his wife plan on having more children some day.

The couple has learned to arrange both their work schedules so that they can be available for Ari.

His wife is the youth programs coordinator for the JCC, and was able to cut down her work schedule from full- time to part-time during the school year. The summers keep her at full-time though, because of the JCC’s day camp.

“I think in this case it’s just like any other family,” Plotkin said. “Be in communication with your spouse and make sure that your son always gets picked up from day care. I personally don’t know if it’s going to get harder or easier as he gets older.”

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