Over 37 of my colleagues, Rabbis of the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, attended a two day conference in Geelong this past week. We focused on practical and professional Rabbinics. Our guest lecturer, Rabbi Yossy Goldman from Sydenham Shule in Johannesburg, presented many sessions on innovative programs and pastoral care. The Rebbetzins also enjoyed their own seminar a few nights prior and appreciated learning from the experiences and wisdom of Rebbetzin Rochel Goldman.
The conference was an opportunity for the rabbis to explore complex halachic and social issues and to update their training on their responsibilities in the area of child safety and mandatory reporting, as well as numerous other prevalent subjects in society today.
Every attending rabbi also had the opportunity to share their own experiences, ideas, thoughts and area of knowledge to the group. Contemporary, crucial community issues were discussed. It was inspiring to see the empathy, warmth and care that the rabbis of the Melbourne Jewish community employ when considering how to best conduct themselves upon giving advice or guidance to their congregants on a range of sensitive and often controversial matters.
Yet, for me, it was the opening session of the conference that really struck a chord. Rabbi Goldman, with tremendous humility, shared with us the biggest mistakes that he has made as a communal rabbi.
I believe having a conference where rabbis can learn, reflect and engage together is extremely important and something I was delighted to experience. It is crucial for rabbis to recognise that we have an incredibly important role, filled with immense responsibility, but equally a role which needs to be filled with humility and the ability to have self-reflection.
In a position where you are involved in people’s lives at both the high points and low points, sensitive times and celebratory times, you might not always get things right. In fact, we may even get things horribly wrong. That’s the beauty of being a human. It is, however, necessary to acknowledge and learn from those experiences. This ensures avoiding making the same mistakes in the future and of course doing things better going forward.
This conference has certainly given me the opportunity to reflect on my rabbinic role, it’s allowed me to learn from my colleagues and most importantly to learn from the mistakes that I’ve made in my relatively short rabbinic career. I hope these incredible few days, engaged in outstanding professional development, will serve me in good stead as I take the learnings back to our wonderful community.”
The Rebbetzin and I will be taking our Bar & Bat Mitzvah group on a Shabbaton weekend and will not be here on Shabbat. We hope you have a wonderful Shabbat and look forward to reporting on the Shabbaton next week!