There is something exciting and totally terrifying about leading worship at the CCAR. First, it’s a huge honor to be invited. Then there are the thoughts of, ‘who am I to lead all these rabbis in worship?!?!’ But the moment it begins, the moment we all start to sing, it all comes together and I breathe!
I was thrilled to include my Cantor and clergy partner, David Reinwald in the morning service. It was awesome for us to share what he and I create and do together on a weekly basis. We have a rhythm in how we pray together and we wanted to share that with this sacred community of rabbis.
We were surprised to see the listing of our shacharit as the Energetic Shacharit. Wow! Someone knows me! We weren’t exactly planning any kind of movement, but the group seemed open to a few laps around the hotel, burpies and sun salutations! However, without our running shoes, the energy was found within each person in the room and it filled every space inside and outside the room.
As the service progressed, voices caught their breath, warmed and elevated. There is nothing like 50 voices rising up in prayer and harmonizing with one another. Our bodies warmed and we swayed with each note and word. When do we as rabbis find the time to be in prayer without being worried if we have everyone on the right page? Shacharit this morning became a gift to ourselves as each individual claimed this prize.
Within this energy of prayer I allowed myself to be vulnerable and share in my own journey of personal growth. Each of us are a work in progress; as Dan Nichols writes, “I’m perfect the way I am and a little broken too.” I love who I am but I know that there is always work to be done. I’ve been finding the courage to acknowledge my brokenness and own the work it takes to grow. And it is in this sacred space and within this sacred community that I know I can do this because I look around and see how we are all perfect the way we are and a little broken too.
This day has been all about health; body, mind and spirit. To open this day in prayer, to raise up our voices and give thanks for the gifts we have and reach for strength to be and do better, this was shacharit at CCAR. What a gift and I thank you all for sharing it with me. I hope you found your breath, your voice, and your courage to see how you are perfect and embrace the brokenness to always be a work in progress.
Now go and breathe!
Rabbi Heidi M. Cohen serves Temple Beth Sholom in Santa Ana, California.