My time here in Australia is great. I am really enjoying the work- teaching, meeting people, going to events at embassies. At times it is really busy (this week I’m giving 5 classes and 3 sermons…) But all in all, I feel like I am doing what I want to be doing- which is really amazing.
I also realized that I have friends, which is really nice. I was sitting at Shabbat lunch with my house full of people, and thinking to myself, wow I’m here for 6 weeks and I have friends.
Something I realized though this weekend is what it means to be known as “the rabbi”.
So, friends of mine convinced me to go on Jswipe. I am not so into it in general, but I figured ok, if I don’t find someone to go on date with, maybe I will find new friends in the area. I have tried Jswipe a few times before, and usually no one writes me or swipes right. But someone did, and then we started talking. And it turned out that he lives very close to me and is part of the Jewish community (there is only one here). And so when he asked what I am doing here, and I said I am the scholar in residence, his answer was “oh, I heard about you…” Yes, there have been articles about me, and it has been spoken about in the shul’s newsletters – so everyone has heard about me. But then our conversation goes to what it means to be a female rabbi, and not anything else. He even went to drinks with the rabbi, and apparently spoke about me (problems of a small community) and there he was told to learn with me. I even met him at the community Shabbat dinner, but he was talking to me as if I was the rabbi, and that was all he wanted to know.
Last night I went out with friends for drinks and then dancing. The rabbi was there too. And every so often someone would comment about how fun/funny/strange/great that they were out with two rabbis – that it doesn’t happen very often.
I have been places before when they have found out that I am studying to be a rabbi- but at the same time I don’t need to say anything to them. But here, there is no hiding it. It is the only reason that I am in Australia. Everyone I have met has met me because of my role as scholar in residence (ie. assistant rabbi).
It is complicated – because one the one hand, I will want the respect that comes along with the title. But on the other hand, I want to just be me. I want to be able to go on a date or go out with friends or just do things, and my title/role is not my entire identity.
I want someone to see that there is more to me than being a female rabbi. I don’t want that to be the entirety of the conversation (yes, I understand that it is something unusual, and so people find it interesting). I don’t want them to be afraid to touch me or say something to me because they are holding me on a pedestal.
So here is to finding out what it is like to date where my role is that of a rabbi…
Anyone have any ideas? Suggestions? Life experience?