So, it's a lot of work to prepare for High Holidays, no matter how you slice it. And doing it for the first time, on top of the work for 12 classes (count 'em: Modern Hebrew, Biblical Grammar, Tanach, Rabbinic Literature, Jewish Thought, 2nd Temple History, History of the Zionist Movement, "Israel Seminar," Musicianship, Liturgy, Cantorial Workshop (ok, soon to be... our teacher has been out of the country), Israeli Folk and Pop Music)(Oh, and lest you think that's all, we're soon to add weekly voice lessons and coaching sessions... just to make things interesting, you know...), many of which are in Hebrew, is that much harder. And without any real support on campus, that much more so.
But... I made it, and not without the help of many. To my fellow cantors who also served Israeli congregations, thank you for moral support and for sharing musical discoveries. To the rest of the cantorial students, your constant moral support was also a source of strength. And to those who made sure I remembered to eat, and actually had food in my possession (mommy Kyna), thank you; I'd be really sick right now, otherwise.
In all seriousness, though, it was an amazing experience to be able to do what I'm here to learn to do right from the get-go. It was trial-by-fire, no doubt about it, but the feedback I received was really affirming of the work I did all year, the work I did leading up to the chagim, and the decisions I've made to pursue this path, and how I wish to move forward.
And, because lists seem to be a theme, some things I've learned:
- Fasting is hard. Fasting is harder when leading services all day.
- A search for something that doesn't exist is endless. I should start composing.
- A supportive community is unbelievably important.
- I will never cease to be amazed by how much one individual can accomplish.
- As good as my Hebrew may be becoming, and as good as an Israeli's English may be, there will always be moments of misunderstanding and confusion.
- As critical as my ear may be, it's always 100-fold moreso than that of anyone else.
- The real world always awaits upon return...