September is the month of the yahrzeit of my Bat Mitzvah teacher, Stan. Stan is the best teacher I have ever had. He encouraged me, supported me, challenged me and surprised me. I remember most of my classes with Stan consisting of disagreements. We would always ask each other questions. Both learning from each other. We would stand at other ends of the synagogue so I could practice projecting my voice. Mid sentence Stan would stop me, question something, asked me my opinion about a section I was practicing. One particular conversation we had was around the passage we read in morning services.
מה–אנו. מה—חיינו. מה—חסדנו. מה—צדקותינו. מה— ישיעתנו. םה—כחנו. מה—גבורתנו.
What are we? What is our life? What is our love? What is our justice? What is our success? What is our endurance? What is our power?
Such immense questions, and ones that I feel are particularly prominent around this time of year.
These ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur lead me to question the impact I make both positive and negative.
This Rosh Hashanah I was in Sheffield and Menorah taking services. These High Holy days coincide with starting my new journey at Leo Baeck College, and this has made me reflect on how I got there. Stan inspired in me the power of asking questions, teaching me that there is no such thing as a stupid question. Asking questions means gaining knowledge, discovering stories, learning history and getting to know people. Stan believed in me and taught me that I matter. Two months before my Bat Mitzvah my mum told me that Stan had had cancer for the past year. A month before my Bat Mitzvah Stan passed away.
Stan was the first person who got me thinking about being a Rabbi. Being a Rabbi to me is to guide and support people in helping them see the best in themselves. I am excited and still a little overwhelmed to be starting this journey towards the rabbinate. I look forward to laughing with my fellow students and teachers, chatting with them, disagreeing and agreeing with them, and learning from everyone.
I am excited, a little scared but ready for this huge stage in my life.
Student rabbi Frankie Stubbs
The views expressed in this D’var Torah do not necessarily reflect the position of Leo Baeck College.