I have now been in Australia for about a week (I guess around this time last week I landed in Sydney). It is crazy to think about how much time flies.
I feel both very far away from things that I know and people who I love, but also bizarrely at home. I have a brother living in Seattle, which is now a 17 hour time difference. When I called him on Friday morning to say Shabbat Shalom, it was only 2pm on Thursday- so crazy. I am learning some new words (or really just figuring out what words people use for things). I am remembering to look in the other direction when crossing the street. Slowly I am learning how to get to places. So far I can walk to the shul, the shops and the rabbis house without any problems.
But at the same time as feeling this distance, there is something homey to here. Even though I’ve only been here a week, I don’t really feel so out-of-place. I actually feel more comfortable here than I did when I was in NYC for the first week.
The community is one of the nicest I have ever met. The rabbi and the president both came to pick me up at the airport. The biggest surprise of that was, they met me at the gate! Apparently here it is still allowed to go through security without a ticket (I did it a few days later to pick up the shlichim…) Someone has taken me around to make sure I filled out all my paperwork, got a library card (yes, I have a library card here), a bus pass, a bank account, do buy all the things I need for my apartment. They even found me my apartment, which is really beautiful. Tomorrow someone is taking me and the shlichim around the city, and on Thursday outside of the city so we can see kangaroos and the such. 🙂
I jumped into my role basically the day after I got here. My first event was a showing of the film “Of Love and Darkness”, which was hosted by the Israeli Embassy. Before the showing there was a meet-and-greet, where I met someone who works for the Philippians Embassy, the Israeli Embassador, and some other members of the community. On Friday I gave the sermon. Saturday night I helped with the Tisha B’Av class. On Sunday I taught a class. On Monday I started the first of my two weekly classes (18 people showed up, in the early afternoon I was told 5…) I already have to write an article, set up a meeting to talk on an interfaith panel, meet with a school, have plans to have dinner with a former Israeli MP and go to Sydney to teach for two days….I am amazed that I was offered this job. Already, the congregants are calling me the “assistant rabbi” (The other day I got there early and someone told the rabbi that the assistant rabbi was already in).
It is a lot, but I think I can do it. Slowly I think I will get settled (although I hope not too slowly, as I am only here for 4 months). It is really and exciting time and a really exciting opportunity. I get to teach, learn about running a shul, act as the assistant rabbi, meet with influential people- and who knows what else.
Even though this is not at all what I expected this year to turn out to be, it is a surprise but on the positive side.
So here is to living in the Land Down Under and doing my dream job.