I have been under a lot of stress lately. I have felt burdened. It’s been difficult. I am very behind on my grading, and I need to get caught up. The research paper is starting, and I’ll have plenty to grade as these assignments come in.
At the same time, school is like a haven for me. Even though I’m behind, I feel much less stress at work. There are a litany of issues I’m dealing with right now. The unreliability of my car (not to mention certain people) is really straining my ability to cope.
I guess that’s why I went to tefillah today. Tefillah means prayers, essentially. I’m not required to go, although as a teacher at a Jewish school, I would consider it well within the rights of my headmaster to require it. Instead, he is sensitive to the religious beliefs of his faculty. Actually, he’s sensitive to the differing practices of his students, too. Our students can choose to go to discussion groups rather than prayer groups. I went to the egalitarian minyan service performed by our Conservative Rabbi Pamela Gottfried. It was really nice. I don’t know enough Hebrew to do more than sort of follow along and when I hear a word I recognize, like “Adonai,” I can scan the page for the reference to “Lord.” I kept up pretty well, considering. Rabbi Gottfried and the students were, I think, surprised to see me, but also, I hope, sort of happy. I enjoy listening to Jewish prayer. I think it is very cool that so much of it is sung, and I enjoy it when the students really get into it and supply a beat with their hands on the table or whatever else is handy.
I suppose God doesn’t care if one of His Christian children went to a Jewish prayer service. After all, He’s the same God. I have been called a Judeophile, and I guess I am. The fact is, I joked with my students about this — I would be Jewish if it wasn’t for that whole Jesus thing. I just can’t give Jesus up. I know that a lot of filthy, disgusting, and wrong-headed things have been done in His name, but if you simply read the text of His teachings… Anyway, I really enjoyed the service, and I’ll probably go again.
This may sound strange to you, but Hebrew is really a magic language. I’m not sure if my students really appreciate it because it gets reduced to a class — one more thing to learn — and it’s hard. I look at the Hebrew letters on a page, but they are little more than a jumble of odd lines and dots. I really admire my co-workers and students who have managed to master Hebrew, especially as a second language. I would love to learn. I have been contemplating trying to take a class. But I said Hebrew is magic — and what I meant is that it seems to me that it’s the language of God. I wonder if my students see it that way?