Taking time to care for the soul

Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh received a B.A. from Skidmore College and was ordained as a Rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. She is fortunate to be involved in so many facets of the community including serving as the chaplain for JF&CS and an instructor for CAJE. This will be her fifth year serving as the visiting Rabbi in Decatur, Ill. She has also served congregations in both Sydney and Perth, Australia. When not writing her weekly BLOGS, she can be found running marathons.

By Rabbi Elizabeth Hersh

It was like going home. This is a busy time of year. Preparations for meaningful Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services followed by Sukkot and Simchat Torah leave little room for much else. Of course, there are daily work responsibilities and time with family. It can be a little overwhelming. Somehow, I usually feel lost and very tired.

I knew months in advance that I had agreed to serve as the Interim Rabbi at BSKI for Shabbat Shuvah – the Sabbath between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. I am so glad that I did. The congregation has the beautiful tradition of being lay lead for the davening. I introduce the Torah portion and deliver a sermon.

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Sitting in the chapel, surrounded by familiar faces and joyful prayer, I felt like I was at home. At times I prayed. Sometimes I closed my eyes and listened to the chanting of the Haftarah. I was greeted with handshakes and words of Shana Tova and good wishes. It had been many weeks since I had last served as the Interim as I share the position with a colleague. Of course, I could join the community on any Shabbat; I did not need to wait for “my turn.”

But like many of you, life is happening and time seems to slip away without always doing the things that nourish our souls. It seems that the soul is the least cared for part if our being. Too many people comment that they would love to attend services but have other commitments. Isn’t it odd that we find the time to shop, run errands, do laundry but cannot make the much needed time to pray with the community? It is time to go home.