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Welcome to the life and chronicles of My Jersey Boys and me, B (the only girl who hangs out with them). Our original mission was to prove that not all of Jersey is obsessed with GTL. Now it's kind of become the place where we share our random thoughts, ridiculous stories, regular quote updates, and maybe a picture or video here and there. There's always something going on...

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When I Used To Be a Rabbi

Posted by D on 4:06 PM
When I was 8 years old, I was a Rabbi. I don't know exactly when I first became one, but I remember what inspired me to become a Rabbi. Although I always found going to services terribly boring, I always made sure to pay attention to the Rabbi's sermon. Even on Yom Kippur (the most brutal day on the Jewish Calendar), when all the kids would take a break during the Rabbi's 30 min sermon, I would stay in my seat and listen. I didn't really care what the old man saying. It was either way over my head, or I really just didn't care. What appealed to me was that a person could be paid to give advice to other people. Obviously, the Rabbi had other responsibilities, but as far as I could tell, this preacher received praise or criticism based on the quality of his sermon. I once heard that Rabbis spend their entire summers writing their High Holy Day sermons (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur). This all suggested to me that a Rabbi's job was 90% sermon, 7% leading services, 2% growing a long beard, and 1% getting fat. What are sermons but lengthy and verbose bits of advice that are tied to the bible?

Even 8 year old me was able to think about how awesome it would be to give advice for a living. After all, I had seen 8 years of the world. What else was there to learn? Giving advice is talking, and talking wasn't that bad. Sure, I was a little shy, but if I was gonna get paid, I would talk for hours. What would I give advice about? I never really thought about that. I assumed that if I was getting paid, it didn't really matter whether my advice was good or not.

The Rabbi's sermon always had a directive: Be kind to your neighbor! Honor the sabbath! Don't eat bacon (even though it looks delicious)! The sermon was spoken with vocabulary that was above my reading level at the time, so I assumed that advice had to be given with big words (6 letters or more), whether or not I knew what they meant. The Rabbi always spoken with an air of authority; obviously, to give good advice you had to talk down to people. If people are paying you for your advice, obviously you are better than them. Even though the old man on the stage seemed to be talking about things that he couldn't possibly understand (like how I individually should practice teachings from the bible or how I was doing something wrong in my young life), I assumed that giving advice didn't mean you actually had to know what you were talking about. The Rabbi would tell us to do things that there was no chance in hell he was doing himself. I wasn't a dumb (maybe dumbish) kid. If you were spending all your time writing this speech, when did you have the time to do all the things you are telling me to do?

I remember one time when my mom wanted to ask the Rabbi a question about his sermon at the end of the service. Obviously, I ran towards the food. As I picked up that first wonderful cookie, I looked back to make sure my mom wasn't watching. There she was looking up at the tall Rabbi as he stared back down at her, yelling angrily at her. I don't know what she asked, but knowing my mom as I do, it was likely something innocent. My mom is not one to cause a scene right after services. I mom looked around her as her friends from the synagogue looked at the Rabbi in horror. Was this really the man leading our congregation? Why was a man of supposed integrity screaming at this woman in the holiest place in the synagogue?

I learned that day that to give advice, you don't even have to be a nice person. Although it's difficult to give advice if everybody hates you, all you have to do is pretend to be nice and reserve your hostility for people who really deserve it: friends and family. As long as you put on a smile, you can give advice about things you know little about, speak in a severely condescending tone, use words that Websters left out of the dictionary because they were so obscure, and best of all be a hypocrite (because who really checks to see if the Rabbi is practicing what he preaches).

Finally, to be a Rabbi at a successful synagogue, you have to be pretty ambitious. This isn't small-time like a local church or Dairy Queen. In big synagogues, there is big money. To get that money (which is the most important thing when you are a Rabbi), you have to do whatever it takes to make it to the top. This is where friends and family come. You can use them to get you as far as they can take you. Then you leave them behind as soon as you have a bunch of naive customers to listen to you.

When I was 8 years old, I was a rabbi. I gave advice to people about things that I didn't understand and spoke in a pretentious tone. After all, who wouldn't listen to an 8 year old brat like me?




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