“I googled ‘Independent Rabbi’ but the internet didn’t know what that was. What does it mean?”
I was delighted to receive the above question from a Spiritual Direction client & to know that my self-proclaimed moniker was unknown in the Googlesphere. It came to me one morning as I was thinking about my website, and how to even describe the work that I do. The term “Freelance Rabbi,” didn’t feel right for me. As I went to don my favorite Powell’s Books t-shirt, I saw the phrase “Legendary & Independent” above a proud & strong Timberwolf. That’s it. That’s me. “Legendary” is not the goal - for some rabbis it is, but it is not mine. Independent sure is, though.
Independent means I do not lead a community. I do not coordinate events. I am not in charge of anyone’s schedule, except my own. I do not answer emails about things that do not directly involve me and my knowledge base. And most importantly, I am not a Toxic Handler, “a manager who voluntarily shoulders the sadness, frustration, bitterness, and anger that are endemic to organizational life.” (Harvard Business Review July-August 1999)
Being an Independent Rabbi means that I do: officiate weddings, tutor young people in becoming B-Mitzvah, work with conversion students, 1:1 Jewish learning & Spiritual Direction. Coaching is a new skill set that I’ve been working on for the past year, and it feels like the natural next step in my independent rabbinate. This way of working and serving humanity is much more akin to how I envision the shtetl rebbe spending their time: in deep thought and reflection with individuals and families around the impactful and joyous times & walking with them along the tricky and sticky path of being human.