I had the conversation with my rabbi today. I was strangely confident and articulate, as I usually am NOT when I'm nervous or really just talking in general. I guess I've had enough time to think about this by now that I really knew what I wanted to say.
The talk was fine, I guess, though my rabbi didn't really allow me to express myself the way I wanted to. He kept interrupting me with silly asides that had nothing to do with the conversation at hand. I went in trying to be a professional, and while I felt good about the way I tried to convey my thoughts, I could tell how he still very much views me as a kid of the congregation. To him, I doubt I'll ever be a real Jewish professional. Understandable, but frustrating nonetheless.
I went in to tell him that while I'm still very hurt and angry about the decision (read this if you haven't already) I understand his and the board's reasons for it. I can see and appreciate how much trouble the temple was/is in, and how this personnel cut will help alleviate the problem. I also expressed my fears that the congregation will now view the role of cantor as somethign disposable, something that the professional staff can throw out when times are tough. I told him that the decision will do the congregation a huge disservice, especially come High Holy Days. I told him that while the assistant rabbi is indeed musical and talented, she is a RABBI and not a CANTOR. There is, of course, a reason why HUC and every other Jewish seminary have seperate rabbinical and cantorial programs. She can not, nor can any rabbi (as good as she or he may be), create the kind of mood and spirituality that a good cantor can create using music.
It took a lot of guts for me to go and talk to him this morning--guts I'm not sure I would have had 18 months ago. As crappy a situation as this truly is, I'm glad that I at least learned something and allowed my passion for this career to grow even stronger. I'm happy that I talked to the people I talked to and learned things I never wanted to learn. I'm proud that I stuck up for my passion and career choice, even to the person I was most afraid to confront. Most of all, I'm excited to see myself as a competant and driven person, defending what I love even when it hurts.
We're leaving in a few hours for a 5 day cruise vacation to the Caribbean. It's been so long since I've taken a vacation or seen the ocean, and I feel like I've had so much drama in my life the last few months. It will be wonderful to let the ocean waves rock me to sleep every night and explore some of the beautiful scenery around me. I plan on spending a little time by the ocean everyday--whether on the deck of the ship or on a beautiful sandy beach. I always manage to find God when I'm by the water, so it will be a nice way to find some private time with the Dude, especially when my mother and brother are driving me crazy.
And then I have to go back to NYC, which kind of makes me want to cry.
But for now, I plan on wrapping myself in beauty and God, eating some good food (in moderation, of course) and enjoying my family.
See you back in NYC on Friday.