Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood

Rabbi Elizabeth S. Wood
Celebrating Havdallah

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thanks for the memories #CCAR11

@FrumeSarah, @jazzrabbi, @imabima, @lizwood1982 tweeting at the convention

There are two things you MUST know about me at the outset of this post:
1) I am a joiner
2) I like people. I'm a people person.

So you can imagine how spectacular a five day long rabbinical convention is for someone like me. Connecting and reconnecting with colleagues on a professional and social level, interesting and stimulating programs and sessions, meaningful worship experiences, rejuvenation and renewal. It was exhausting and overwhelming and energizing, all at the same time. It is ALMOST too much to process. So I've provided a list for you of my TOP TEN moments at the 2011 Central Conference of American Rabbis Convention in New Orleans:

10) T'fillah - imagine in a grand ballroom with hundreds of your closest colleagues, raising your voice as one in prayer. Pretty spectacular!
9) Session on Congregational engagement - there's a neuroscience behind how people adapt to change and how we more easily help people break free of comfortable and predictable patters to innovate. VERY COOL!
8) NEW ORLEANS - Our opening keynote speaker Scott Cowan, President of Tulane University, spoke of the history and resiliency of New Orleans. What an incredible city. Not to mention all the amazing food and culture. Beignets at Cafe Du Monde, Etouffee at Cafe Bon Temp, Riverwalk restaurants on the Mississippi River....okay, maybe just the food!
7) Seeing old friends and reliving memories together. There is NOTHING like remembering inside jokes and stories from years gone by and laughing harder than you ever thought possible. It is the best!
6) Meaningful dialog with colleagues. Whether in a session, a momentary soundbite, or a meaningful hour-long discussion, these are the ways in which we process all the things we do in our jobs, our lives, and our Jewish movement. Invaluable.
5) The Women's Rabbinic Network dinner - an organization near and dear to my heart that promotes and upholds the distinct issues that women face and address as rabbis. It is uplifting and affirming, always.
4) Jazz on Bourbon Street - let's face it, you cannot go to NOLA without heading to Bourbon street and hearing some great music. The moment that Dixieland brass starts playing "When the Saints Go Marching In" you cannot help but get up and dance and sing!!! I know, I did :)
3) TECHNOLOGY - This is a biggie! From the CCAR smart phone app to visual t'fillah, to tweeting, blogging, texting, and more. Never in my life have I understood the importance of technology more than when I made such INSTANT connections with the colleagues that I've gotten to know well online (and not previously in person).
2) Environmental Justice Tour - I was hesitant to spend the majority of one of the days away from the hotel sessions, but this trip was unbelievable. I learned all about the injustices that the greater NOLA community faces (bayou depletion, fence-line communities, effects of Katrina, etc) and the organizations that work to rectify these issues. *Next blog post to follow on this most important learning experience*
1) Networking - This one is so important to me. I love people (see above) and to get the chance to learn with, meet, and connect with colleagues and friends throughout the country is hugely important to how we build communities, bounce around and share ideas, and support one another. Old and new connections are made and remade. Old and new experiences are lived and relived. I am so blessed to love what I do, to love those with whom I do it, and to be reminded of just how very lucky I am to do this sacred work and to share it with my professional community, my congregational community, and the Jewish world.