It is Spring, Pesach and time again to launch another season of “Ask the Rabbi.”
The hardest part about this “Ask the Rabbi” experience was actually mustering up the courage to go and sit down with my little sign announcing my presence. Once I got over my own fears, I did it. I took up residence in my space. I sat down, pulled out my sign and waited for an opportunity. A shaded table, a smile and a sincere hello are the key ingredients to this recipe.
A person might ask “Why do I do this?” (go ahead, I’ll wait) Simply, it seems like a good idea. I am out in my community trying to be friendly, to connect to people where they are. There are no expectations. It’s just me and another empty chair inviting people to join me. Reactions run the gamut from ignoring me to embracing me. But here I am.
I am here because I met a friend and colleague for coffee not too long ago and we spent much of our time together saying hello to people we knew and introducing each other and engaging in pleasant conversation. It got me to thinking about what this might look like to purposefully be present. Interestingly, other colleagues particularly my fellow friends in Rabbis Without Borders were thinking along similar lines. Most notably Rabbi Michael and Rabbi Ari have posted their experiences. (and special kudos to Rabbi Michael for getting the TV publicity and raising awareness of his work.)
We are going to where the people are instead of waiting for them to come through our doors, open as they may be. And it sends a message that we are out and present in the day-to-day encounters, not solely the ritual events, meetings and conferences we attend, or our institutions. We are just out here saying hello, sharing some time and welcoming another’s presence, starting a conversation and perhaps a journey together.
So, Come! Ask the Rabbi!