I’m what’s known as a Cantorial Songleader.
And by what’s known I mean I made that term up
to refer to what I am lucky enough to stand before
the people of Israel and do.
Most people say Cantorial Soloist but that term
rubs me the wrong way in that this work isn’t about
what I can do, but wholly about what I can get
the people to do.
Speaking of rubbing, I’m reminded how many
paths to becoming clergy of one kind or another
there are. You might be given s’micha by
colleagues who have determined you have
learned what there is to learn.
You might attain an advanced degree at
an institution of higher learning after years
of study in a thoughtfully curated program.
It’s possible the Rabbi might be away on a trip
and ask you to say the things that need to be said
on a Friday night since he’s seen you do it before
and he has all the confidence.
And then there are the oldest ways. The ways involving
the blood of a ram, this time smeared on your
right ears, the thumb of your right hand and
the big toe of your right foot. (Sorry lefties.)
Later on, you’ll wave both the breast of the
ram of perfection and the thigh of the uplifting
in the air (like you do care) as a sign to The Lord
before you eat it and become fully invested.
Times have changed and I don’t think much
happens involving waving meat in the air
at rabbinic school. Maybe at cantorial school.
You need a lot of energy to sing Kol Nidrei.
I do know everyone has the potential to
give blessings; or better yet, to show the
ones being blessed that they are a blessing.
But just in case, pass me the tofu thigh of uplifting.
There’s work to be done here.