One of the things I love most about coming to CCAR Convention each year is the chance to pray with other rabbis. Shared t’filah each morning mean getting to be part of a “congregation” of people who know liturgy intimately and who share a vocabulary about the range of what prayer is “for.”
Coming together this way, for me, means getting to sink into something so comfortably familiar, with others I may have once davened next to each day at HUC-JIR, or whom I’ve never met before but with whom I nonetheless share so much common, core experience of prayer. It means getting to learn from being led by colleagues, some of whose expertise I may technically share but whose prayer leadership can help me to examine, hone, and play with my own practice. It means getting to be in a minyan as a participant, without needing to be an exemplar for someone else’s spiritual experience, or a wordsmith to figure out just what the multiplicity of people around me need. As a rabbi who is currently regularly on the bimah, it offers me a chance to just … be part of a community and pray.
This year, I find myself particularly longing for and looking forward to being together in our moments of shared rabbis’ t’filah. The Psalmist wrote “Elohim nitzav baadat El—God stands among God’s gathering” (Psalm 82:1). We are those whose professional work is to gather others in the name of what is holy. When we gather together ourselves, what a way to invite what is holy to stand with us, in us, through us—to give us the healing we need and to empower us to return to our own work more whole.
I have the honor this year, on the 2020 Convention Committee, of getting to think about and plan with colleagues the t’filah sessions we will hold Tuesday and Wednesday mornings (multiple prayer options each morning, each paired with a beit midrash session so that we can learn together in the same spaces that we pray), as well as our Kaddish gathering moments each night.
Hinei mah tov—how good it will be when we come together.
Rabbi Jordi Schuster Battis is the Associate Rabbi of Temple Shir Tikva in Wayland, Massachusetts and a member of the CCAR Convention committee. CCAR Convention 2020 will be held in Baltimore, March 22-25, 2020. CCAR members can register here.