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What Does a Rabbi Do?

I love my job. I would not even call it a job; it is a life or a lifestyle. You are not a rabbi only when the synagogue is open or only during the day. You are not a rabbi only on Shabbat or during the High Holy Days. It is a 24/7/365 existence. 

People often wonder what my days look like as I am engaged in so many different tasks and areas on a given day. What does a rabbi do exactly?

In some ways, my life looks exactly like the rabbis’ lives of a thousand years ago: I officiate at funerals. I meet with couples about to be married. I teach Torah and Talmud. I work with B’nei Mitzvah students. I provide counsel to those who are struggling. I spend time with those who are sick. 

In other ways, my life looks drastically different, even unrecognizable, when placed beside the rabbis’ role once upon a time. I reach out to the community via social media. I work with faith groups across all lines to foster community and strengthen partnerships. I work with school boards to ensure that the needs of Jewish students are met. I work with various synagogue committees to ensure that we are providing for our congregational family in every imaginable way. I lead trips to Washington, the South, the State of Israel and beyond to have our community learn about their Judaism in new and interesting ways. I visit with prisoners at nearby prisons. I spend time at nursing homes. I work with the cantor to map out services and programs that will inspire and engage our congregation. 

More specifically, my days often look like this:

Mornings are spent in the building. I am writing and editing sermons. I am responding to emails. I am calling congregants to check in on them. I am meeting with our incredible staff to see how I can best support them and vice versa. I am preparing for upcoming classes and holidays.

Afternoons are spent out of the building. I am visiting with congregants. I am meeting with members of the broader community, from other faith leaders to community leaders. I am connecting with clergy. I am visiting our congregants in nursing homes, hospitals and at home. 

Evenings are spent in the building. I am meeting with committees. I am sitting with couples about to be married. I am working with our teens or teaching my Confirmation class. I am leading services with the Cantor. I am teaching Talmud or another adult education class. 

Somewhere in the middle of all this I stop home for dinner and to see my family. 

The above schedule is often upended by a sudden need or urgent matter. My day will be rearranged by someone who is suddenly in the hospital or a congregant in distress. My days are both routine and not at all routine. 

I feel so fortunate to be able to do this, here at KI, every day. It is often a hard life but it is a profoundly rewarding life. I wouldn’t change a thing.