An Italian restaurant. The pasta, pizza, atmosphere— all these things were lovely. However, this particular dinner was not really about the food. The dinner was a modality for bringing together a group of rabbis. The CCAR Convention is a collection of a number of groupings: different interests, differing causes or issues, friendships created over time spent on committees, on trips, servings faculty at camps. These various levels and sizes of cohorts add texture and meaning for the rabbis who gathering in our annual rabbinic conference. I believe that these experiences can matter for those who attend regularly and for those rabbis who only attend occasionally or rarely. These are among the ingredients that offer learning, experimenting, and visioning for our individual rabbinates and our Conference as a whole.
One such grouping is particularly unique. It is a gathering around the meal that I began describing. The primary ingredient was and is rabbinic school classmates catching up. Laughing, sharing stories, supporting one another; these are the spices. Some of us talk or text often. Others connect only at the annual CCAR Convention, or even less often. Each time we gather around the table, we represent only a portion of our class. However, the others are present as we tell old stories and catch up regarding our class.
Glancing around the restaurant, we realize that there are other classes gathered as well. They connect over their stories, sadnesses, advice and laughter. This year is special for our class. We celebrate 25 years since our 1994 ordinations, across multiple HUC-JIR campuses. We embrace those members who started with us or ended with us, but didn’t spend the full journey together. Our rabbinic careers are spent largely apart from one another, but we draw strength in our gathering amidst a larger convention.
Sure, just a dinner. However, a dinner of friends, who having started our careers together, still can draw strength, support, and mutual respect from each other. So the ingredients at this meal were special and we look forward to future meals together.
Rabbi Andrew Busch serves Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.