Last night, I turned in my final paper for my Biblical History & Civilization class. With that, I finished my first full year of the ALEPH Rabbinic Ordination program—and am withdrawing from the program for the foreseeable future.
Those who have walked with me on this journey know that having to withdraw is a disappointment that’s been almost a year in the making. As soon as I entered the program, I realized I might not be able to continue due to lack of funds. With the help of friends and family, though, and some limited scholarship assistance from ALEPH, I held on and finished a full year!—by what felt like the skin of my teeth.
To everyone who helped make one year of rabbinical school possible—through gifts of money, friendship, and/or encouragement—thank you. The learning, experiences, and relationships this year has brought are informing my life and work right now—and I intend to put them to positive use.
To ALEPH ordination chevre, todah! I am sad to have to go, but so thankful for your warm welcome, a year of learning with and from you, and late night song and laughter. I wish you all many blessings, and know that American Jewish life has a beautiful and deeply souled, richly textured future with you as its emerging leaders.
To my teachers in the ALEPH program and the VAAD who opened new worlds of learning and helped me feel like I made sense in that special community of seekers, thank you. I hope to have an opportunity to learn from you again one day.
My gratitude is real. But I won’t lie and pretend that everything is okay. I feel a sense of loss—loss of learning opportunity, of community, of possibilities. (I think I could be a good rabbi!)
I am frustrated, too, that this path is closing just because of money. Money seems such an arbitrary thing. Some people have lots of it! But I don’t—and without access to grants or loans to support this program of study, it is just not possible for me to continue.
I can’t know what the future holds. Maybe at some later point, I’ll be able to return. In the meantime, there are ways I can continue to learn and serve without formal studies. For my Jewish community here in Austin, where diverse paths of leadership are open to newcomers with heart, drive, and dedication, I am grateful.
And now, here’s to whatever’s next.