This is the time of the year when we might ask each other: do you have any plans for the summer? For many, the summer provides a welcome break from the routine of school and work. For me, summer provides an opportunity to go back to school, and that’s exactly what I’m doing this year.
I consider myself fortunate to work for a congregation that recognizes how important it is for its clergy to engage in professional development. It is impossible to stay fresh and effective as a teacher and a spiritual leader without regular opportunities to learn and reflect. Summer is an ideal season for such opportunities because there are no b’nai mitzvah ceremonies, the Center for Jewish Learning is on break, and fewer people seek pastoral support.
This summer I will spend some time at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. Kenyon is a liberal arts institution reputed to have a strong writing program. Earlier this year, a rabbinical colleague who teaches in Kenyon’s summer institutes publicized the opportunity to attend a spiritual writing workshop designed to benefit clergy. One aim of this program is to teach participants how to reach people outside of the walls of religious institutions: spiritual seekers who are not affiliated with a church, synagogue or mosque.
I am excited to learn from a faculty well-known for effective spiritual writing and from my colleagues who will learn with me. As a bonus, I will be able to re-live some of the joys of college life, including dorm living and cafeteria dining. (Given the crowd, I don’t expect too many beer keg parties.) I look forward to seeing many of you at the end of summer, and I hope you will agree that my professional development time was well-spent.