Intermountain Jewish News

Banner
Monday,
Nov 24th

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!

Shabbat Times

JTA News

Canadian-Israeli victim of Jerusalem synagogue attack remains in coma

Marcy Oster Howie Rothman, 53, the father of 10 children, was hit in the head and arm with a meat cleaver by one of the terrorists. ... [Link]

Iran nuclear talks extended until June 30

Ron Kampeas Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the delay, saying it provided more time to prevent what he called a “very bad and dangerous agreement.” ... [Link]

Ukrainian Jewish fighter touted as ‘hero, symbol of resistance’ to Russia

Cnaan Liphshiz His resemblance to Fidel Castro notwithstanding, Asher Joseph Cherkassky is becoming an unlikely pinup for Ukrainians fighting the Kremlin. ... [Link]

Making Israel’s Jewish status the law: Why it matters

Ben Sales What’s the big deal about calling the Jewish state “Jewish”? Here’s what you need to know about Israel’s nation-state bill, its prospects and implications. ... [Link]

Grandson of Rudolf Hess speaks at Budapest Holocaust commemoration

Marcy Oster His descendant Rudolf Hess, the Auschwitz commander, was responsible for the extermination of roughly 400,000 Hungarian Jews at the death camp in June 1944. ... [Link]

Palestinians delaying U.N. resolution seeking Israel’s West Bank withdrawal

Marcy Oster A resolution to the Security Council calling for a deadline will wait until after nuclear negotiations with Iran are completed, the Palestinians’ foreign minister said. ... [Link]

Limmud learning festivals make debuts in Uruguay, Haifa

Marcy Oster One session in the Israeli city included a live-link, trans-Atlantic session with Limmud Boston, Haifa’s twin city. ... [Link]

Kharkiv Jewish philanthropist dies of gunshot head wound

Cnaan Liphshiz Police are investigating the shooting of Vadim Vishnevsky that some accounts said may have been self-inflicted. ... [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