In honor of my husband, who’s a pretty great rabbi, I offer Synablog’s Letterman-style “Top Ten Ways to be a Great Rabbi.”
Number 10: Know your stuff. Be a student of Jewish texts, of Jewish history, of Jewish peoplehood.
Number 9. Be a teacher. Open up the vast sea of Jewish tradition and knowledge for your students – young and adult.
Number 8. Craft your sermons to inspire your people. Say something on Shabbos and Yom Tov that people can use in their lives every day.
Number 7. Create a synagogue – a kehillah kedoshah – a sacred community of meaning and purpose. Build a “congregation of priests,” of people who see themselves as God’s partners on earth.
Number 6. Stand for social justice. Do not be afraid to speak out against injustice – of any kind.
Number 5. Love the State of Israel. Take your people there. Show them the vitality of the Jewish homeland.
Number 4. Love your family, especially your devoted partner in building sacred community.
Number 3. When you first retire, move to a mountaintop and build yourself a house! Show it off proudly to your visitors…in excruciating detail…down to every nail that you yourself hammered into the structure.
Number 2. Never retire….be there for those who need you.
And, the Number One thing you can do to be a great rabbi is cherish the relationships you create with your congregants and your colleagues.