Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Sunday,
Mar 01st

Sabbatical time pays off for Rabbi Dollin and HEA

E-mail Print PDF

Rabbi Bruce DollinRABBI Bruce Dollin began to realize last year that his work as the senior rabbi of the Hebrew Education Alliance had started to become less inspiring and more predictable. The feeling left him at a crossroads.

“Rabbis of large congregations are constantly multitasking trying to meet the tremendous expectations of their communities,” said Rabbi Dollin in a report to his board and congregational community.

“This happens every day of the week, even on the rabbi’s day off, even when the rabbi leaves the community for a few weeks each year for vacation. The congregation is always on his mind. The sometimes subtle, but mostly overt pressure is always there. And when one multiplies this year after year for decades, the burden simply gets heavier and heavier as the rabbi gets more and more fatigued.”

Dollin requested and was granted a several month sabbatical from the HEA congregation in order to renew his own participation in Jewish study and to travel the country and explore some of the most innovative synagogue communities in the US.

“I never understood how important it is for a rabbi to take a sabbatical. I understand that now and regret, quite frankly, that I didn’t take one sooner. After 25 years of running services, I realized that I never got to see colleagues around the country and what they do.”

During his travels, Dollin abided by a rule to improve his learning experience. He came to each congregation unannounced, so he could experience the service not only as a guest, but as a congregant. This helped him really immerse himself in the environment, and get an authentic feel for it.

Although he picked up bits and pieces everywhere he went, Rabbi Dollin says that two places specifically impressed him most. The Romemu Jewish Renewal congregation in New York and the IKAR congregation in Los Angeles each had innovative practices that Dollin has now brought to the HEA

Romemu held yoga and meditation before the service, and then provided a musical and engaging service that all could participate in.

“The process of meditation before the service allowed me to relax and clear my mind so I could fully take in the experience when the service began.”

“The great music included instruments and singing of great melodies to traditional prayers. This service was not an entertainment show, but a prayer service that clearly brought in the worshipper.”

In Los Angeles, Dollin experienced another creative service not only in the synagogue but outside it.

“This young, creative conservative congregation [IKAR] provided a musical service with singers and drummers. Different people took turn in leading the service, engaging the whole group.

“The prayers to music were very impressive, but outside of the prayer session, IKAR members participate in many social action projects to enrich the community, which can be just as important as the prayer service itself.”

TO bring ideas and innovation back home, Rabbi Dollin has formulated an entirely new prayer service for HEA. Entitled “Shir Hadash,” this new Saturday morning alternative service will encompass some of the creative practices that Dollin picked up from around the country.

This weekly service will be offered simultaneously with the current Saturday morning services, and will focus more on specific parts of the service rather than the entire service.

“It is a very exciting time now working to build a new service. The service will follow the standard formula, but in a two-hour time frame.”

“We will select psalms from all selections of the service, as well as explore Torah and Haftorah readings, and of course we will include a sermon.”

Over the past month, worshippers have been offered an opportunity to join Rabbi Dollin during musaf services to learn melodies for the new service. This invitation has had a great reception, as dozens of people have taken the opportunity to learn new melodies.

“The warm up classes for Shir Hadash have people picking up new material very quickly. This is a cool experience to watch. People are receiving the new project very well. The organic growth we will have in the coming months will be a very exciting time for all of us.”

Along with the new prayer service, Rabbi Dollin has emphasized the start of more social action projects at HEA.

“If we can work like IKAR to encourage members to take on community projects to benefit not only the Jewish community, but the general community, our congregation can grow together and also make a difference.”

Shir Hadash will hold its inaugural service on Sept. 1, at 10 at the Goldberger Youth Center at HEA.

Copyright © 2012 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Last Updated ( Thursday, 16 August 2012 12:59 )  

Get the IJN's free newsletter!

Cast Your Vote

What prevents you from being more involved in Jewish institutions?
 

Shabbat Times

JTA News

David Blatt getting a handle on life as NBA coach

mbrodsky After early growing pains, the ex-Maccabi Tel Aviv mentor has the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers poised for a deep playoff run in his NBA debut. ... [Link]

Israel asks Congress for more missile defense funds

Marcy Oster The request comes amid what is considered a crisis in U.S.-Israel relations over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before a joint session of Congress. ... [Link]

IDF calls up 13,000 reservists for mass West Bank training exercise

Marcy Oster The two-day drill is designed to prepare the reservists for a possible escalation of violence in the West Bank. ... [Link]

Ex-Israeli military officials call on Netanyahu to cancel speech

Marcy Oster An alliance of more than 180 former officials says the Israeli leader is misleading Israel and strengthening Iran. ... [Link]

Netanyahu speech needed to go through Obama, half of U.S. voters say

Marcy Oster Some 48 percent of voters told a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll that the president should have been consulted before the Israeli prime minister was invited to address a joint session of Congress. ... [Link]

AIPAC emphasizes Iran talks at record-breaking conference

Ron Kampeas The pro-Israel lobby, with 16,000 activists in attendance, is pushing bills that seek increased congressional involvement in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. ... [Link]

With ‘Jewish Journey,’ PBS traces 350 years of migrations

Ben Harris A new documentary from writer-director Andrew Goldberg, who has become public television’s semi-official Jewish chronicler, looks at what brought millions to America’s shores. ... [Link]

White House squeezes U.S.-Israel into two sides of a card

Ron Kampeas The U.S.-Israel relationship, or 5 things I love about you. ... [Link]

Intermountain Jewish News • 1177 Grant Street • Denver, CO 80203 • 303 861 2234 • FAX 303 832 6942
email@ijn.com • larry@ijn.com • lori@ijn.com