היום שבעה ימים שהם שבוע אחד בעמר
Today is seven days, which is one week of the omer
A day of nobility in a week of loving kindness
In Jewish tradition, there is a concept of makom kavua - a set place for prayer. The idea is that one's prayer can be more focused when there is comfort of being in place. As someone who tends to be a creature of habit, I appreciate this minhag, this custom. It is important to guard against becoming too attached to a place. It's not kosher--and certain not welcoming-- to insist on dislodging a visitor who has unknowingly taken than space. And there are circumstances when a change in place is necessary. In my almost 14 years of prayer practice, I've had major changes--such as when the building housing my space was torn down and then replaced; and small changes-- like when a newcomer arrived and appropriated my place just as I was gone for a long vacation. There's nothing I could do about the former; as for the latter, I found a new place in the spirit of shalom bayit--peace in the house.
It's fairly easy to adapt to changes in makom kavuah in my prayer life. I can always find another place to sit. Finding my makom kavua in the Jewish professional world has been a much harder task. I began my path back to Jewish observance and study in the spiritual realm. The physical practice of yoga led me to look at its philosophical underpinning. The similarities I found there with Judaism propelled back to the practices that I was so drawn to in my youth, but now in an environment without gender biases. I could develop a meditation practice within the container of Jewish tradition.
Through the years, I have found my self drawn to leading services, chanting Torah, finding ways to help my communities connect to the Jewish rituals that so deeply touch my soul. I felt the calling to reach out to those who are on a similar search but need help finding their way. How to fulfill that calling was and issue for many years.
No matter how many times I hear someone tell me I should go to rabbinical school, there are many reasons that will not happen. I have, however, found a place in Jewish education. As a teacher of both children and adults I can share my love and connections with Judaism on many levels. In return, I learn much from my students, and the spiral of give and take keeps everything fresh and relevant.
The way isn't always smooth, my confidence level wavers, and I am often the victim of my own doubts. But while the specific space may change, I have found my place, my makom kavua in the Jewish world. With the help of many wonderful communities to support me, I hope to keep my focus as I continue to answer the call.