As a child the first thing I wanted to be was a cantor. I wanted to sing in a temple. I wanted to perform the songs of transformation and spirit. I wanted to bridge the gap between the worlds of the concrete and the abstract, the subtle and the gross. Singing, I would stand between the worlds and be a conduit for my congregation. I would be a way unto the most high.
I was the Star Pupil at Hebrew School. Judaica and Hebrew, History and Talmud. I learned the law and tradition. Above all, I learned the songs.
And I am a Cohan; of the family and heritage of priests. It is in the blood so much so physical anthropologists can tell who is and who is not by genetic markers. Genetic Markers. I got those in spades.
I was the last bar mitzvah at my congregation before there were too few Jews left in the area to sustain a building. We moved to another temple close by. It was more affluent and we went from being one of many among the working class to sending in tax forms and pleading letters to be allowed to join for less than the recommended yearly fee. My parents were not good enough and, by extension, neither was I.
That congregation, too, is now gone. It became, just as the other, a private school, then offices, then, finally, after a car too fast missed the curve too sharp and tangented into the foyer, torn down. But I graduated before that.
As I graduated, I tried for our temple’s scholarship to Yeshiva. I qualified. My grades, my involvement. My scholarship. I didn’t get it. It went to two boys, twin brothers of the same family, whose parents donated money and who definitely didn’t need the assistance.
After graduation, they left for Seattle and took jobs making envelopes.
I gave up on the Jewish community and but I wanted still to be the conduit, to sing myself and others into spirit.
Now I study Shamanism.
I mentioned this the night after Kol Nidre. I tell this to my friends. My friends with whom I share my journeys into spirit, shamanic study and work. I want to be a priest.
I ask, did I make it?
One tells me I did. I am. I believe her.
And another tells me, “You, my friend, have made it in spades.”