From a recent session with a colleague – shared with her permission: “I’m so busy planning and preparing to make sure they are able to do their cheshbon nefesh, I feel as though I’ll have no opportunity to do my own.” I wonder how many of us come out of the experience of the Yamim with similar feelings. As much as I was able usually to pray while leading from the pulpit, I remember only rarely feeling that I had been able to go into the deep, introspective and spiritual work for which the season calls during my pulpit years. No longer carrying that responsibility, I am able to bask in my appreciation for the work and effort put in by our colleagues facilitating the spiritual journeys of our people through these challenging days. (This year, I want to take a moment in particular to raise up the energy expended upon the unique creative opportunity offered by Mishkan Hanefesh – I’m hearing amazing things about transformation through this machzor, but we all know it would not have been possible without tremendous engagement on the part of all of you!)
Taking all these things into account, this seems to me a most appropriate time to remind our members of the Care and Wellness for which I have been engaged by the Conference on your behalf. Having poured out so much energy in the spiritual care of our people, could there be a better time to avail yourselves of the fruits of your labors than by taking some time now for the self-care and growth support offered as a benefit of your membership?
So, just to remind our members, I am serving the CCAR at the behest of staff and board leadership, as part of my internship requirements in pursuit of a Masters in Social Work. I am also a trained Spiritual Director and Jewish Mindfulness teacher. From among these disciplines, through me the CCAR is offering you a variety of opportunities. Our next online Jewish Mindfulness class begins October 20; we will soon be inviting one of our communities of practice to consider joining a pilot program in Peer Supervision. We also look forward to offering an introduction to Spiritual Direction later this year, followed by a short-term pilot group opportunity in that practice.
I invite you, in the spirit of this season, to ask of yourself, “What am I doing or should I be doing to set my own spiritual and psychological house in order and to make sure that it is a Sukkot shalom?” Not only do we deserve to ask ourselves this question for our own sake – ultimately, we owe it as well to those we serve, in whatever capacity. To that end, I remind you of my enthusiastic availability to offer short term (approximately 8 sessions) therapeutic or spiritual direction work to any member of the CCAR in good standing. For all you’ve done, do and will do to serve the Source of our Being and our people, I open the doors of my heart to invite you to avail yourself of this gift. Hoping to hear this year from many of you, I wish all of you a joyous, healthy and fulfilling 5776 in which you are able to set free sparks of holiness and healing for all and an early Mo’adim l’simchah.
Rabbi Rex Perlmeter is currently pursuing a MSW at Columbia University and will be doing a year-long internship with the CCAR, providing short-term counseling to rabbis in need. In addition to his MSW work, Rex brings extensive experience working with rabbis through his years at the URJ and is a trained spiritual director. Learn more.