RaeAnn and I are getting ready to embark on a three-month Sabbatical, pilgrimage-like odyssey. Although it is ten years since our last Sabbatical, we will be away from the congregation for a much shorter period this time.
First, we’ll spend one month in India studying with a master of Kriya yoga, Paramahamsa Naranenda. We’ll be in a small retreat center near the seaside village of Puri, in the state of Odisha; we’ll also make a side trip to the holy city of Varanasi. After India, we plan to cover as much as possible in fifty days of the 1000-kilometer Israel National Trail (INT) while including some rest time and Shabbatot. The INT traverses the entire country from Eilat in the South to Dan in the North.
My goals for this Sabbatical are to gain greater clarity and to work on expanding my spirituality. I want to connect with teachers and go deep within myself with the objective of redefining and reframing my coming elder years and my rabbinate. I also want to rekindle my passionate love of Israel. My hope is to keep a journal and possibly, if I have access to Wi Fi, to send excerpts to the congregational newsletter.
My replacement is a young, creative, energetic, soon-to-be-ordained rabbi, Matt Ponak. I am certain that he will bring remarkable energy and care to our congregation. Matt comes from Alberta and has connections to Vancouver Island. When I met Matt for an initial informational interview, I felt intuitively that he would make a great replacement for me during my time away. He is completing his fifth and final year of rabbinical studies at Boston Hebrew College, a liberal non-movement centered Rabbinical School populated by some very remarkable teachers and students. You will hear from Matt in the near future. Matt strikes me as a deep thinker, a spiritual seeker and a creative human. He is a musician, a husband and a father with two young children. I am certain that “y’all” will give him a warm and loving welcome.
My hope is to come back with new visions and new vitality. I am blessed to have this time and opportunity to pause and reflect on the deeper aspects of self and vocation. I feel it is an immense privilege to be the spiritual leader and teacher of our wonderful, sometimes whacky, very haimish and meaningful congregation.